Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has thrown his hat into the ring for the June elections just minutes before the deadline. He had previously said he would run only if the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini consented.
A relative moderate, Rafsanjani’s registration has shaken up the contest which had previously been seen as a race between conservatives. He is seen as the champion of the reformists who were quashed during what became known as the Green Revolution following current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed victory in 2009.
His candidacy came just moments after Ahmadinejad’s protege Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei registered his intention to run.
When quizzed by journalists about accompanying a candidate at the registration bureau, which is against protocol, Ahmadinejad claimed it was a day off. The current president is not allowed to stand again.
More than 450 candidates have put their names forward for the post, amongst the last minute heavy hitters was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.
On May 23 the constitutional council will release the candidates approved to lead a country reeling from international sanctions imposed over the ongoing nuclear dispute.