Ahmadinejad Decries Aide’s Disqualification From Election

TEHRAN (Los Angeles Times/MCT) -

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday denounced as unjust the supervisory electoral body’s disqualification of his top aide from next month’s presidential poll and said he plans to appeal to the nation’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad spoke a day after the powerful Guardian Council, which vets candidates, barred the out-going president’s confidant, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, and former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the nation’s most illustrious political figures, from the June 14 election.

The council gave no reason for disqualifying Mashaei and Rafsanjani, who were considered wild cards for the presidency. Critics have said the two rivals were not sufficiently loyal to Khamenei, who has the final say on matters of state.

Tuesday’s decisions enraged the pair’s many supporters and threatened to deflate turnout.

Ahmadinejad told reporters Mashaei was “unjustly treated,” according to the conservative Fars News Agency. “I have presented … Mashaei as a righteous and religious person who could be useful for the country.”