Just minutes before the deadline on March 11 to register as a presidential candidate, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani made it official that he wants to be the next Iranian president.

Meanwhile, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s top aide, also entered the race during the final minutes of the registration period.

Today, numerous well known figures registered for the presidential race, including Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Tehran Mayor Mohammadbagher Ghalibaf, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast.

Mohammad Khatami, who had been urged to run by many reformist groups and figures, had issued a final statement saying Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani would be the best choice in the race.

Khatami has been quoted as saying that the establishment does not want the reformists in power and, even if they pass the eligibility criteria, they will not be allowed to get beyond a certain number of votes.

Today, Khatami’s offices were surrounded by security and plain clothes forces, according to reports by Kaleme, and no one was allowed to enter the building.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, who now has the support of Mohammad Khatami, had said earlier that he would not run in the election without the Supreme Leader’s consent.

In the past week, Ayatollah Khamenei’s elder brother gave a speech critical of Hashemi, saying the United States favours a Hashemi presidency.

The speech, however, did not keep Hashemi’s supporters even amongst conservatives from urging him to run. Conservative MP Ali Motahari reportedly arrived at Hashemi's home early Saturday morning to persuade him to register for the presidential race.