By Misha Zand, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.
On Sept. 27, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent an official letter to the supreme leader of Iran announcing that he will not run as a candidate in the May 19 presidential election.
In his letter, Ahmadinejad referred to an Aug. 30 meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and wrote:
“You recommended that it is not suitable at this time for me to participate in the elections. Therefore, I have declared my obedience. … I have no plans to compete in next year’s election.”
Ahmadinejad, who served as president from 2005-2013, also thanked the supreme leader for his public lecture on Sept. 26 in which Khamenei indirectly referred to this meeting. Khamenei recounted that he was approached by a gentleman whom he did not consider suitable for candidacy, and said, “I did not tell him not to run. I said it is not in your own or the country’s best interests to run.”
Khamenei was widely quoted in Persian-language newspapers. Ebtekar News wrote Sept. 27 that even though the political hard-line faction knew about it, “Ahmadinejad’s supporters insisted that this news be announced publicly for them to accept it.”
The supreme leader’s indirect remarks may put a final end to months of unconfirmed rumors of Ahmadinejad’s candidacy that had been circulating and sporadically surfacing in the media. At the peak of the rumors, before Khamenei’s Sept. 26 remarks, even previous Ahmadinejad ally Hamid Rasaei, a former member of parliament, wrote that some media were reporting on meetings involving the supreme leader “ascribing to him quotes regarding the election.”