List of military candidates stirs unease over Iran vote
Registration for the June 18 poll runs from Tuesday to Saturday, after which names will be handed to the conservative-dominated Guardian Council for vetting
A string of military figures on the list of Iranian presidential hopefuls is stirring unease over a possible militarisation of the Islamic republic's politics.
Registration for the June 18 poll runs from Tuesday to Saturday, after which names will be handed to the conservative-dominated Guardian Council for vetting.
State news agency IRNA has pointed to "the longest-ever list (of potential candidates) in a presidential election with a military background".
The participation of candidates with a military background 'is not new', said Ahmad Zeidabadi, an independent journalist in Tehran.
However, none of them were serving members of military forces during their candidacy, said Habib Torkashvand, a journalist with the Fars news agency, which is close to Iran's ultra-conservatives.
This time around, hopefuls include Saeed Mohammad, an adviser to Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami, and former oil minister Admiral Rostam Ghasemi, an economic affairs aide to the head of the Guards' elite Al-Quds force.
Two members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps -- parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and his predecessor Ali Larijani -- have both run for president in the past.
So has Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary general of the Supreme National Security Council.
The three have been touted as possible candidates for this year's race too, although they have yet to declare their intentions.
The field also includes Ezzatollah Zarghami, a former Guards member, and General Hossein Dehqan, who was defence minister in outgoing President Hassan Rouhani's first government.
Moderate daily Jomhouri-e Eslami has warned the election of a 'military figure to head the government' could have 'negative consequences' for the country.
And Ali Motahari, a former lawmaker from the reformist camp, who has announced he plans to run, has said the long struggles to end military rule in Turkey and Pakistan should serve as a warning.
But General Dehqan has rejected any suggestion that "military figures would bring in martial law or restrict freedoms".
"In Iran, there's no chance of militarisation of the state," said Dehqan, currently an adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
(With inputs from agencies)