Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday shocked his nation by reportedly filing to run in its May presidential election, ignoring advice from the nation's supreme leader.
Rouhani has not formally registered for a reelection bid, AP added, but had been viewed by many as the likely victor following Khamenei’s remarks.
“His advice does not prevent me from running,” Ahmadinejad said of Khamenei Wednesday. “There is extensive pressure on me from dear people of different walks of life as their small servant to come to the election.”
One stunned official told the AP that the move amounts to nothing less than "an organized mutiny against Iran's ruling system."
Ahmadinejad served two four-year terms between 2005 and 2013 and is now eligible for reelection after four years outside office under Iranian law.
The May 19 election is seen by many as a referendum on the global agreement over Iran’s nuclear program that Rouhani helped negotiate. The landmark deal gave Iran relief from international sanctions in exchange for greater restrictions on its nuclear energy initiatives.
Khamenei in September recommended that a certain candidate not seek office as it would cause a “polarized situation” that would prove “harmful for the country.”
Ahmadinejad was involved in a disputed reelection campaign in 2009 that resulted in months of widespread unrest, with thousands of people detained and dozens killed.