Former Iran parliament speaker signs up for presidential vote after Raisi death

By Thomson Reuters May 31, 2024 | 4:06 AM

DUBAI (Reuters) – Former Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, a prominent conservative, was among candidates registering on Friday for an early election next month following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash, state media reported.

Larijani, an adviser and ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told reporters that he would focus on fixing the economic problems facing Iranians and “resolving (U.S.) sanctions”, while maintaining a strong defence.

Larijani was barred from standing in the 2021 presidential race by the clerical-led Guardian Council which vets candidates. But an Iranian insider told Reuters that Larijani decided to run after he was assured by top officials that he would not be disqualified by the hardline council. No reason was given for the change.

Iran on Thursday started the registration of candidates for the June 28 election.

Once seen as a possible successor to Khamenei, Iran’s ultimate decision-maker, Raisi’s sudden death has triggered a race among hardliners to influence the selection of the country’s next leader.

After a five-day registration period, the Guardian Council will vet candidates running for the presidency. Moderate politicians have accused the 12-member body of disqualifying rivals to hardline candidates, who are expected to dominate the race.

Turnout may be hit by restricted choice on the ballot and rising discontent over an array of political, social and economic crises.

Within Iran’s complex mix of clerical rulers and elected officials, Khamenei has the final say on all state matters such as nuclear and foreign policies. But the elected president will be in charge of tackling worsening economic hardship.

Saeed Jalili, a former chief nuclear negotiator who two decades ago ran Khamenei’s office for four years, was the first heavyweight hardliner to register for the election on Thursday.

Jalili had made an unsuccessful bid in 2013 for the presidency and withdrew from the 2021 race to support Raisi.

Parviz Fattah, a former Revolutionary Guards member who heads an investment fund linked to the leader, could also register as a candidate.

Interim President Mohammad Mokhber has also been mentioned in Iranian media as a possible candidate.

Several low-key moderate politicians are also likely to enter the race.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Giles Elgood)