Iran ex-IRGC commander sanctioned by US launches presidential bid

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A former commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who is under US sanctions registered his candidacy Saturday for next month’s presidential election, state media reported.

Like other hopefuls, Vahid Haghanian, will have to wait to see if his candidacy is okayed by the Guardian Council, a 12-strong body of jurists dominated by conservatives that vets all candidates for public office.

Little information has been made public about Haghanian’s career in the Guards, the ideological arm of Iran’s armed forces.

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Like late president Ebrahim Raisi whom he is seeking to succeed, Haghanian has been under US sanctions since 2019 for his role in supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “inner circle responsible for advancing the regime’s domestic and foreign oppression.”

Haghanian said his candidacy was a “personal decision” but he was “fully familiar with the issues of the country.”

He said he had forged close ties with key officials in state institutions “during 45 years of service in the presidential administration and the office of the supreme leader.”

The June 28 election was called after Raisi was killed in a May 19 helicopter crash.

Candidate registration opened on Thursday and closes on Monday.

Others who have announced their candidacies include Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani and former lawmaker Zohreh Elahian, the first woman to enter the race.

Moderate ex-parliament speaker Ali Larijani, reformist former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati and ultraconservative former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili have also registered.

The Guardian Council will announce the final list of candidates on June 11 after it has completed its vetting procedures.

The council disqualified several reformist and moderate candidates from the last presidential election in 2021, including former speaker Larijani.

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