Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) flashes the sign for victory
Tehran, Iran - Associated Press journalists watched as stunned election officials processed Ahmadinejad's paperwork on Wednesday.
Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday unexpectedly filed to run in the country's May presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the supreme leader to stay out of the race.
Ahmadinejad's decision will upend an election many believed would be won by moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers. Though Rouhani has yet to formally register, many viewed him as a shoe-in following supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's recommendation in September for Ahmadinejad to stand down.
But many hardliners in Iran seek a tough-talking candidate to rally around who can stand up to US President Donald Trump. Ahmadinejad's candidacy also could expose the fissures inside Iranian politics that linger since his contested 2009 re-election, which brought massive unrest.
Associated Press journalists watched as stunned election officials processed Ahmadinejad's paperwork on Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad previously served two four-year terms from 2005 to 2013. Under Iranian law, he became eligible to run again after four years out of office, but he remains a polarising figure, even among fellow hardliners.
Two of his former vice presidents have been jailed for corruption since he left office. Iran's economy suffered under heavy international sanctions during his administration because of Western suspicions that Tehran was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.