DUBAI - The last day of registration for Iran's presidential candidates began on Saturday with several high-profile figures yet to declare whether they would run in the most uncertain election in decades.
The June 14 poll will be the first presidential election in Iran since 2009, when mass protests dubbed the "Green Movement" erupted after the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over reformist candidates Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi.Since then, reformists who espouse greater social and political freedoms have been suppressed or sidelined. Mousavi, his wife and Karoubi have been under house arrest for more than two years.
Now, the prestige of Iran's most powerful man, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is threatened by intense rivalry between hardline groups polarised by Ahmadinejad, who has been accused of wanting to erode the system of clerical rule.
Early on Saturday, Iranian media reported the registration of the charismatic mayor of Tehran, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a member of a three-man coalition of "Principlists" - loyal defenders of Khamenei and the theocratic system who are, by implication, hostile to Ahmadinejad.