Iran on Tuesday opened the five-day period for presidential hopefuls to formally register for the country's tenth presidential election, expected to be a key test for the country's dominant conservatives.
More than 1,000 candidates registered online since May 2 to run in the election, the interior ministry said according to the state-run Press TV.
But according to Iranian law, candidates have to personally present themselves to the interior ministry to register or send their legally appointed representative to complete the official procedure.
At the end of May, the Guardian’s Council, in charge of inspecting the ideological qualification of the candidates, will announce the names of those selected to run in the election.
Former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi and former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi have already announced plans to run for the presidency and are expected to officially register before the deadline expires on May 9.
Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took power in August 2005, has yet to declare his candidacy, but is expected to register to seek another four-year term.
Mohsen Rezai, the former head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corp, is also planning to stand.
Mousavi and Karroubi are both considered reformists and are thought to be Ahmadinejad’s main challengers.
Criticism of Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad has faced mounting criticism from reformists and fellow conservatives mainly over his handling of the economy, accusing him of stoking inflation and "wasting" Iran's windfall oil revenues over the past two years.
Since his 2005 election, the president has gone on a spending spree, pledging generous sums for local infrastructure projects and small business loans, and put his country on a collision course with the international community over Iran's nuclear drive.
On Sunday, Rezai launched a bitter tirade against Ahmadinejad, accusing him of pushing the Islamic republic to the edge of a "precipice."
The official IRNA news agency said the first candidate to register was 45-year-old Mohsen Hadi Najafbadi from the province of Sistan Baluchestan which borders with Pakistan.
"I am sure of winning 100 percent of votes," Najafbadi told IRNA.
"The first thing I will do after my victory is to create an office that will spread justice as this big tree of the Islamic republic is rotten with corruption and injustice."
Four women had also registered as of the morning.
According to the Iranian constitution, candidates should have a political and religious background, hold Iranian citizenship and believe in the principles of the Islamic republic and the official religion of the country.
The candidates have to be at least 18 years old but the upper age limit has not been specified.
After the registration, Iran's powerful 12-member Guardians Council will screen the candidates and give a final ruling on those who can stand for the election.
The council comprises six clerics selected by the supreme leader and six jurists proposed by the head of the judiciary.
The names of successful candidates will be announced on May 20 and 21, with the election campaign running to June 10. The interior ministry has said results will be declared a day after the election.
The presidential election will be held on June 12 where all Iranians aged 16 and above are eligible to vote.