The 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the Rohani administration lifted crippling economic sanction in return for Tehran's curbing of its nuclear ambitions.
Among the other renowned figures applying for candidacy for the post of president on Friday was Mostafa Kavakebian, a member of the parliament. Some erstwhile supporters who had hoped for radical social changes under his presidency are also critical, saying he has failed to stand up to Iran's conservative religious establishment.
Influential cleric Ebrahim Raisi, the custodian of a powerful organization in charge of Iran's holiest shrine, appears to be the leading hardline candidate.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference near the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, US, September 22, 2016. "There is extensive pressure on me from dear people of different walks of life as their small servant to come to the election". In fact, however, it was probable that he could give way to his political colleague, former Vice-President Hamid Baghaee, to run on his platform, although there seems little likelihood that the Ahmadinejad camp could win.
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According to the Associated Press, election officials were "stunned" when Mr. Ahmadinejad appeared.
Incumbent President Hasan Fereidun Rouhani is favored to win re-election, and an Ahmadinejad candidacy would split the hardline vote, giving the advantage to President Rouhani.
The next question is whether he will be approved by the conservative-controlled Guardian Council, who will vet the hundreds of registered hopefuls over the coming week, with the election due on May 19.
Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has filed to run in the May presidential election. "It would be very unsafe to pin former President Ahmadinejad as being just a principlist... because there's a lot of the things that he has done within Iran in terms of internal policies that could qualify as being reformist". The council normally does not approve dissidents or women for the formal candidate list.