Rohani said during a weekly cabinet meeting on May 26 that he wished the Guardians Council would select more candidates to ensure greater “competition” in the June vote.
“The heart of elections is competition. If you take that away, it becomes a corpse,” Rohani said.
“I sent a letter to the supreme leader yesterday on what I had in mind and on whether he can help with this,” he added.
The Interior Ministry announced on May 25 that the Guardians Council had approved Ebrahim Raisi, Mohsen Rezai, Saeed Jalili, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh-Hashemi, Abdolnasser Hemmati, Mohsen Mehralizadeh, and Alireza Zakani to run in the June 18 vote.
The list — chosen from some 590 would-be candidates — was as notable for who wasn’t on it as it was for those who were included.
Ali Larijani, a prominent conservative voice and former parliament speaker who later allied himself with Rohani, was eliminated from the race, along with current Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist, and former hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
The decision by the Guardians Council, which did not explain why candidates were included or excluded from the list, puts Raisi, a hard-line cleric in charge of Iran’s judiciary, in a dominant position for the upcoming election.
He’s the best known of the seven hopefuls, has close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and ran against Rohani in the last presidential election in 2017.
The Guardians Council has in the past disqualified many moderate presidential hopefuls.
Rohani, a relative moderate whose government is taking part in talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, cannot seek reelection after having served two consecutive four-year terms.