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Rouhani enters presidential race

The two main rivals in the race are widely expected to be President Hassan Rouhani, and Ebrahim Raeesi.

Mr Ahmadinejad went against advice from the supreme leader, who warned him a year ago that running was "not in his interest and that of the country".

TEHRAN: Ebrahim Raisi is a hard-line judge who spent years in powerful backroom positions before emerging as a leading challenger for Iran's presidential election next month.

Some analysts doubt that Rouhani, who was elected in a landslide in 2013 on a pledge to reduce Iran's isolation and create a freer society, has enough will to improve the country's human rights situation.

The upcoming vote will be seen, among other things, as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, under which Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of worldwide sanctions.

Rouhani won in a single round with more than 50 percent of the vote in 2013 when no other candidate took more than 17 percent, but may face a tougher campaign this time if often-feuding hardliners can join forces against him.

An ally of Khamenei, Raisi also registered on Friday for the vote.

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He is what is known as a seyed, meaning he traces his genealogy back to the Prophet Mohammed.

Rouhani said securing the nuclear agreement is one of the most important issues for Iran. "I don't limit myself to a certain group, party or faction", he added.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad filed to run in Iran's upcoming presidential election, defying the wishes of the country's supreme leader that he not seek to return to the office. Associated Press journalists said election officials were "stunned" when he submitted his paperwork against the supreme leader's warning, but Mr Ahmadinejad said the words were "just advice".

Ahmadinejad was accompanied by his confidant former controversial deputies Hamid Baqaee and Rahim Mashae.

More than 600 candidates have applied to stand in the forthcoming presidential elections Iranian media reported. "His disqualification by the Guardian Council would show that the council is not independent and follows the orders of the supreme leader", said political analyst Saeed Leylaz.

The country's Guardian Council - the highest political body in the country, which is overseen by Khamenei - then has 10 days to approve the candidates. Ahmadinejad's candidacy also could expose the fissures inside Iranian politics that linger since his contested 2009 re-election, which brought massive unrest.

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