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(Reuters) – The former speaker of the Iranian parliament Ali Larijani demanded on Saturday an explanation from an election watchdog on why he was barred from running in next week’s presidential vote.

Last month, the hardline Guardian Council approved just seven hopefuls to stand in Friday’s poll and disqualified several prominent candidates, including Larijani and former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“I urge the esteemed Guardian Council…to formally, publicly and transparently provide all the reasons behind my disqualification,” Larijani said in a tweet hours before the final presidential debate.

At the time of his disqualification, Larijani, a moderate conservative, accepted the Council’s ruling, saying he had “done my duty before God and my dear nation.”

The decision to ban candidates boosted the prospects of hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But it may further dent the clerical rulers’ hopes of a high turnout amid discontent over an economy crippled by U.S. sanctions.

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The approved candidates include former chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, a conservative; former Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezaei, a frequent presidential candidate; and current central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati, a low-profile moderate.

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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