TEHRAN — A council that vets Iran’s political candidates disqualified former two-term president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday — along with hundreds of others — from the presidential election next month.
No official reason was given for the disqualifications in the May 19 election, which were announced on state television Thursday night by an election official, Ali Asghar Ahmadi.
While Mr. Ahmadinejad’s disqualification was not unexpected, the timing of the announcement — just around midnight, two days before what had been the scheduled unveiling of the final list of candidates — was unusual.
Mr. Ahmadinejad is a polarizing figure known in the West for vitriolic diatribes against the United States and Israel, denying the Holocaust and winning his second term in a suspiciously lopsided vote in 2009 that opponents called fraudulent, leading to some of the worst political unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution and a tough crackdown.
According to the state television announcement, a total of six candidates will be competing — all men — and include the incumbent, President Hassan Rouhani.
In office from 2005 to 2013, Mr. Ahmadinejad is not the first former president to be barred from seeking the office again. Still, his registration for the election just a week ago was a political surprise, considering that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had advised him against it.
Mr. Ahmadinejad also is a defendant in a number of court cases.
Under Iranian law, presidents cannot serve more than two consecutive four-year terms.
Besides Mr. Rouhani, the approved candidates included Ebrahim Raisi, a prominent conservative cleric who is regarded as Mr. Rouhani’s main rival; Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the conservative mayor of Tehran; Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist first vice president; Mostafa Mirsalim, a hard-line conservative; and Mostafa Hashemitaba, a moderate.
Political analysts in Iran are expecting the race will come down to a competition between Mr. Rouhani and Mr. Raisi, a former judicial official accused of having been involved in the killing of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
Some political analysts have speculated that Mr. Raisi is a possible successor to Mr. Khamenei.
There are relatively few criteria in Iran for registering as a candidate for president, and this year 1,636 people applied. The list of applicants is winnowed by the Guardian Council, a 12-member group dominated by hard-liners.