TEHRAN, May 22 (UPI) -- The leading opposition-backed candidate in Iran's presidential election was not on the list of eight candidates allowed to run, the Interior Ministry said.
The ministry's announcement Tuesday of the eight candidates for June's presidential election did not include Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani or President Mahmood Ahmadinejad's ally, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.
Those on the list for the June 14 election include Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili; Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf and former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. Jalili is considered the favorite candidate of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Six clergymen and six judges sitting as the Guardian Council sifted through more than 680 people registered as potential candidates.
Conservative websites and semi-official agencies had reported that reformer-backed Rafsanjani, 78, was disqualified because he was deemed too weak to govern, The Guardian said. His supporters said the reports were based on rumors spread by rivals.
Ali Motahari, a lawmaker appointed Tuesday as head of a campaign group supporting Rafsanjani, said he thought Khamenei might intervene to reinstate Rafsanjani.
"Rafsanjani played a significant role in founding the Islamic republic ... His disqualification will call into question the very principles of our revolution and the principles of the ruling system of the Islamic republic," he told the government-backed Iranian Students News Agency.
Mashaei was widely expected to be barred despite Ahmadinejad's support, The Guardian said. Supporters of Khamenei have accused Mashaei of putting Iran ahead of Islam and not showing enough loyalty to the supreme leader.