TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — About 126 prospective candidates submitted their names on the first day of candidate registration for Iran’s May 19 presidential elections, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.
There are six women and seven clerics among the 126 registered people, with ages ranging from 18 to 79.
Registration will remain open until Saturday, and any Iranian national can apply. The applicants will then be vetted by the Guardian Council, a clerical body that will announce a final list of candidates by April 27. The council normally does not approve dissidents or women for the formal candidate list.
A dissident activist Mehdi Khazali, who served several prison terms on security-related charges, said after registration that hostility toward the west would come to an end if he is elected.
“We must seek to remove tension with the entire world. Relations based on mutual positive interaction must be established.” Khazali said.
Mostafa Mirsalim, a former minister of culture in 1990s who represents traditional conservatives, came to register while wearing blue-collar workman’s clothes — part of his campaign theme to create more job opportunities.
“I have come to retrieve your share of the Islamic Revolution and deliver it to you,” Mirsalim told the crowd.
One female registrant, who identified herself only as Mirfattah, pledged to form a half-female Cabinet if she wins.
President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, is eligible to run for another term. Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Hamid Baghaei, a close ally of former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have announced plans to run. Both have vowed to fight poverty and corruption.
The coming vote is seen as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, under which Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
The nuclear deal was engineered by the Rouhani administration and went into practice in 2016. Since then Iran has resumed selling oil and signed deals worth billions of dollars for passenger planes to replace its aging fleet.
However critics of the deal complain that these economic benefits have yet to trickle down to average Iranians.