The Iranian Guardian Council of the Constitution could charge President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for violating election rules when he accompanied his chief advisor to the election registry on Saturday.
Iran state television broadcast footage of Ahmadinejad escorting Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. He was allegedly caught telling a confidant that if anyone asked why he accompanied Mashaei they should “tell them I’m on a day off work.”
The Guardian Council is charged with interpreting the Islamic Republic of Iran’s constitution as well as vetting 680 presidential candidates, including Mashaei. Ahmadinejad’s actions Friday could hurt Mashaei’s prospects for the June 14 presidential election, as tension continues to grow between Ahmadinejad and ruling clerics.
Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei was quoted on state TV saying that Ahmadinejad’s action will be referred to Iranian judiciary for possible charges.
Mashaei has received public funds for his election, and rules governing that funding were broken when Ahmadinejad escorted him to the registration. If convicted he could face six months in jail or 74 lashes.
Ahmadinejad, 56, cannot run in the upcoming election because the constitution bans him from a third term in office. He has been at odds with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and ruling clerics for many years.
Mashaei, described as a “religious-nationalist,” has been accused by the Ayatollah’s allies of undermining Islamic law. Iranian Islamic conservatives dislike Mashaei’s pro-Israel agenda.
Frontrunners in the June election include Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, senior Khamenei advisor Ali Akbar Velayati and top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.