Ahmadinejad Could Face Up to 74 Lashes Over Election 'Violation'
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face charges for openly endorsing the candidacy of his top adviser, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, and accompanying the candidate as he registered his nomination on Saturday for the June 14 presidential vote.
Iran's constitution bans a seated president and his administration from campaigning for or supporting a presidential candidate. Ahmadinejad could face 74 lashes if punished to the full extent of the law.
"We discussed this at a meeting of the committee that supervises elections and everyone unanimously agreed the president had committed a crime," said Abasali Kadkhodaie, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, a committee of powerful clerics that vets presidential candidates and acts as a constitutional watchdog, according to The Wall Street Joural.
Ahmadinejad has not yet been charged and the judiciary must decide whether to follow up on the complaint.
Ahmadinejad defended his move by saying he had taken the day off from being Iran's president Saturday and that in Iran there was "a lot of talk and stor[ies] about what a president does," reported the official media, according to The Journal.
A total of 686 candidates are vying replace Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the country’s upcoming June national election.
Ahmadinejad, who is term-limited and cannot run for a third straight term, has been grooming Mashaei to take over the presidency for years, angering critics.