It all began at 00:00 of May 25, when Fars News published a list of seven candidates, stating that prominent figures such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Es’haq Jahangiri, Masoud Pezeshkian, and more importantly, Ali Larijani have been disqualified by the Guardian Council.
The list Fars News published consisted of surprising names, such as Abdolnasser Hemmati, the current head of Iran’s central bank, Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, current presiding board member of Kish Free Trade Zone Organization, and Alireza Zakani, current head of the Parliament Research Center. Zakani had been disqualified in the 2017 presidential election.
The list published by Fars sparked lots of responses on social media, particularly on Twitter and Clubhouse. Many Larijani supporters rushed into Clubhouse sessions and called on the Guardian Council to approve Larijani, stating that there is no legitimate reason to disqualify him.
Rumors began to circulate on Twitter that Larijani has been disqualified because his daughter, Fatemeh Larijani, is currently studying in Ohio.
Abbasali Kadkhodaei said on May 24 that the Guardian Council has invited a few candidates to listen to their plans, including Hemmati. He fielded candidacy, yet he did not announce which political party or faction he belongs to.
Another surprise on the Fars list was Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, who had been off radar since the 2005 presidential elections, in which he entered and was disqualified. The Guardian Council later received an order from the Leader of the Islamic Revolution to qualify him. Mehr Alizadeh is commonly known as a reformist in public opinion, yet the reformist front did not seem eager to unequivocally support him.
Azar Mansouri, spokesperson for the “reformist front” said on Tuesday morning that the front did not appreciate the purported list, saying that the disqualifications will lead to decrease in participation in the presidential polls.
At around 11 in the morning, rumors exploded Twitter stating that President Rouhani has written a letter to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution requesting him to make changes in the list confirmed by the Guardian Council. This all came out after no official at the Ministry of Interior refuted or approved the list published by Fars.
When asked about the letter, Ali Rabiei, the government spokesman, said that he will ask and inform the media.
“So far as I know, the president only writes to the Leader on important occasions,” he remarked.
Mohammad Mohajeri, a principlist political activist who claimed that Rouhani has written to the Leader, said that the president has prevented the Ministry of Interior from releasing the names of the final candidates.
Mehdi Faza’eli, a media activist, tweeted on Tuesday expressing hope that Larijani will emerge victorious from this “test,” sparking speculation regarding Larijani’s disqualification. Pressures mounted on the ministry to announce the names and they did so at 14:15.
The list published by the ministry was the same that Fars leaked at operation 00:00. The official candidates were Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, Mohsen Rezaei, Saeed Jalili, Abdolnasser Hemmati, Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi, Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, and Alireza Zakani.
The list faced reactions from all around the world. The quickest reaction came from Ali Larijani, who had long been speculated to be disqualified. He released a statement minutes after the official announcement by the Interior Ministry saying that he thanks everyone supporting him. He said he accepts the decision of the Guardian Council and does not seek reconsideration.
“I will not ask even my brother to consult with authorities to confirm me,” he said.
Sadegh Amoli Larijani, Ali Larijani’s brother, is a member of the Guardian Council.
He asked people to passionately participate in the elections. Shortly after Larijani’s statement, Ali Motahari, who himself was rejected as presidential hopeful, criticized the Guardian Council for disapproving Larijani, saying that he cannot understand the logic behind the decision. He added that he does not have any objection to his disqualification.
A video released by Ebrahim Raeisi exploded Twitter. It said that he has been consulting with authorities to “make the election scene more competitive.” Analysts said that Raeisi is trying to meet with the Leader to get his approval on qualifying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali Larijani and Saeed Mohammad, three figures expected to have large bases.
Es’haq Jahangiri, a prominent pro-reform nominee, issued a statement hours after the announcement stating that he had entered the election race “to help develop Iran, knowing all the challenges.” His statement was issued hastily and out of anger, yet inviting people to participate in the election.
Masoud Pezeshkian, another pro-reform candidate, issued a statement thanking all his supporters and elites, saying that he has no objection over the Guardian Council’s decision.
Perhaps the strongest reaction came from Sadegh Amoli Larijani. He harshly criticized the Guardian Council over the disqualification of his brother.
Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, an approved presidential candidate, wrote on his Twitter page on Tuesday afternoon saying, “Reformism is alive as long as Iran is alive,” declaring his support for Es’haq Jahangiri and Masoud Pezeshkian.