Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mahmoud AhmadinejadReuters

Iran’s Guardian Council on Sunday approved the country’s hard-line parliament speaker and five others to run in the country’s June 28 presidential election, but barred former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from running, The Associated Press reported.

The council’s decision represents the starting gun for a shortened, two-week campaign to replace Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash last month.

The most prominent candidate remains Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, 62, a former Tehran mayor with close ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Qalibaf ran unsuccessfully for president in 2005 and 2013. He withdrew from the 2017 presidential campaign to support Raisi in his first failed presidential bid. Raisi won the 2021 election, which had the lowest turnout ever for a presidential vote in Iran, after every major opponent found themselves disqualified.

Other candidates include Saeed Jalili, former Jalili, former senior nuclear negotiator, Tehran mayor Alireza Zakani, former justice minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, Raisi’s vice president, and reformist Masoud Pezeshkian, who is not seen as having much chance.

Ahmadinejad officially registered last week as a possible candidate for the presidential election, days after announcing his intent to regain the country’s top political position. However, he was disqualified by the Guardian Council, which also barred him from running in 2017.

Ahmadinejad was Iran's President from 2005 to 2013. Before leaving office in 2013, Ahmadinejad said that denying the Holocaust was his “proudest moment” as President.

In 2019, the former President insisted that he is not an antisemite and is merely opposed to the “Zionist government”.