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Having a chosen protégé in power could be crucial to Mr. Ahmadinejad's future following a chorus of calls from prominent members of parliament and the judiciary for his arrest for abuse of power.
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Ahmadinejad's Heir Blocked
by Clerics in Iranian Election

The London Telegraph
Iran's controversial president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced the humiliation of being barred from promoting a loyal successor as officials opened registration for presidential elections on June 16.

A rush of conservative establishment candidates left a noticeable gap in the political contest as Mr. Ahmadinejad's camp failed to nominate a candidate.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has a reputation as a hardliner abroad - partly as a result of his vows to wipe Israel off the map - but at home he has incurred the wrath of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who sees him as a dangerous radical.

The Iranian president, who was re-elected in a rigged ballot in 2009 to a second term, has made no secret that his chosen heir is Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a relative and former chief of staff.

Having a chosen protégé in power could be crucial to Mr. Ahmadinejad's future following a chorus of calls from prominent members of parliament and the judiciary for his arrest for abuse of power. "Ahmadinejad will not so easily relinquish his power after having secured it over the last eight years. His ultimate plan is to see Rahim Mashaei would succeed him as the president so he himself would not lose his position within the political system," Sadeq Ziba Kalam, a Tehran University political analyst told the reformist Sharq newspaper.

But with the registered candidates facing final vetting by a clerical panel, the Guardian Council, political analysts believe Mr. Mashaie stands next to no chance of making it through to the election.

As a result the final field will be made up of a handful of establishment figures with close ties to the Ayatollah Khamenei, who holds ultimate power under the country's Islamic constitution.

More than 20 politicians have announced their intention to run, state-run Press TV reported as hundreds of Iranians registered at an Interior Ministry building in Tehran.

The registration closes at the end of the week and the Guardian Council will announce a final list of candidates on Saturday.


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