Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has spoken out against a potential return to the presidency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, media reports said Monday.
Hardliner Ahmadinejad, 59, was Iranian president for eight years until 2013.
The reports said that while Khamenei had not issued a formal ban on Ahmadinejad's candidacy, he had advised the ex-president in a private meeting not to stand in the election, set for May 19, 2017.
Khamenei, who according to the constitution has the final say in all strategic matters in the Islamic republic, believes that a run for the presidency would neither be in Ahmadinejad's nor the nation's interest, Tasnim news agency reported.
Ahmadinejad has hinted at his potential comeback several times since the start of the year and has expressed his desire to topple the current incumbent, reformist Hassan Rowhani.
"People are therefore looking forward to my potential candidacy because the [Rowhani] government has produced nothing but rubbish until now," Ahmadinejad said, according to news portal Payesh.
After a drubbing by the reformists in parliamentary elections in February, many hardliners saw Ahmadinejad as the only hope for toppling Rowhani, but Khamenei's intervention is likely to have extinguished those hopes.
The populist Ahmadinejad could potentially have exploited Rowhani's failure to reap the economic benefits from a groundbreaking nuclear deal with the international community in July 2015.
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