DUBAI - Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday he does not favor any candidate for June's presidential election, although hardliners with outlooks similar to his dominate the field.
The field of candidates was narrowed considerably last week when the Guardian Council, a body of clerics and jurists that vets all candidates, disqualified two independent contenders - former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close aide of current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Reformists, who ran at the last election four years ago, have been largely excluded this time, with the leaders of the "Green movement", that protested against what they said was a rigged result, under unofficial house arrest for more than the last two years.
Analysts say Khamenei is intent on seeing a loyal and docile candidate enter office after the unrest that followed the 2009 election. Though he initially had Khamenei's backing, Ahmadinejad challenged the supreme leader throughout his second term and has lost favor with the conservative establishment.