The barring of two key opposition-minded candidates from upcoming 14 June elections sends a clear message that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will tolerate neither a dilution of his power, nor friction that has at times characterized relations between supreme leaders and former presidents. The Guardian Council, which oversees the selection of Iran’s presidential candidates, last week barred former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff and his preferred successor. According to the Iranian constitution, the 12-member Guardian Council chooses who can or cannot run in Iran’s presidential elections. All its members are approved by the supreme leader; presidential candidates who have expressed or reflected opposition views are generally disqualified.

The dismissal of Rafsanjani and Rahim-Mashaei reflects the split within the Iranian political system between the twin executive branches headed by the supreme leader and the president. (CONTINUED - 744 WORDS)