Iranian authorities have barred two prominent politicians from running for president, Iranian media reported on Tuesday, leaving the June 14 election to be contested between mostly hardline conservatives loyal to the country's supreme leader.
Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close aide to president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, failed to make it onto a list of candidates approved by the Guardian Council, Fars news agency reported.
Both Rafsanjani, a relative moderate who was president betweeen 1989 and 1997, and Mashaie, well known due to his almost constant presence by Ahmadinejad's side, entered the race at the last moment.
Both have expressed views that have upset Iran's hardline clerical elite and there had been much speculation that they would be barred.
The news report quoted a statement from the Ministry of Interior that listed eight approved candidates including Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, foreign affairs advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf.
Also approved were Mohsen Rezaie, a former head of the Revolutionary Guards, Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, another close aide to Khamenei, Hassan Rohani, a former nuclear negotiator who is close to Rafsanjani, former telecommunications minister Mohammad Gharazi and Mohammad Reza Aref, the only reformist on the list.