Iran’s powerful judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi registered on Saturday to run in the country’s presidential election next month.
Raisi, a prominent cleric who is frequently mentioned as a possible successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said in a statement he is joining the presidential race to “bring about change in [how the country is managed] and to relentlessly fight against poverty, corruption and discrimination.”
Raisi, who was appointed head of the judiciary by Khamenei in 2019, is expected to have the backing of the supreme leader and most conservative groups in the election.
Raisi’s name is tied to Iran’s mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s. He was allegedly a leading member of what came to be known as the “death committee,” a group of Iranian judiciary and intelligence officials put together by former Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini in 1988 to oversee the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners at the time.
Raisi, 60, ran for president in 2017, losing to incumbent President Hassan Rouhani. A second unsuccessful run would strike a major blow to his chances of succeeding Khamenei.
Former speaker of parliament Ali Larijani also registered to run on Saturday.
The election will be held on June 18 and will see Rouhani, who has served the maximum two consecutive terms allowed, step down.
Registration for presidential hopefuls opened on Tuesday and will close on Saturday. Candidates will then be vetted by the Guardian Council, an unelected body responsible for overseeing elections.
The council is largely seen as a tool for Khamenei to control elections, as half of the 12-member vetting body are appointed by him.
Over 300 people have registered to run, according to election officials.
The final list of those qualified will be announced by May 27, according to the interior ministry, after which campaign begins.