In a surprise move Wednesday, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially filed to run in the Islamic Republic’s upcoming May presidential race.
News of Ahmadinejad’s filing follows reports in June 2016 that the former Iranian president was mulling the possibility of running in Iran’s 2017 presidential elections.
Ahmadinejad previously served two, four-year terms as Iran’s president from 2005 to 2013. After four years out of office he became eligible to run again under Iranian law.
Ahmadinejad’s decision to run for president contradicts the recommendation of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who advised against it. According to Iran’s Fars news agency, the supreme leader warned Ahmadinejad, “it’s not in your own or the country’s best interests to run.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Ahmadinejad referred to Khamenei’s comments as being suggestive, saying they were “just advice.”
Ahmadinejad, a hardliner infamous for his fiery anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric, made a surprise comeback on the Iranian political scene in 2016.
The former president is a harsh critic of the country’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, and represents a serious threat to the incumbent leader.