A member of Iran’s constitutional watchdog group said on Thursday that women cannot be presidential candidates, quashing a largely symbolic move by a group of women to run in the June 14 election.

Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi of Iran’s Guardian Council, which vets all candidates, said the “law does not approve” of a woman in Iran's highest elected office, and that this is “not allowed,” according to the Associated Press.

Thirty women had registered as candidates, although there was little hope that any of them stood a chance in the election which will replace President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He cannot run for a third term under the constitution.

Observers said there was ambiguity in the constitution about whether women can participate in presidential elections in Iran, the BBC reported.

However, the latest ruling appears to put an end to the debate.

A total of 686 people have registered to run in the presidential election, the AP reported. The final list is expected to be announced next Tuesday.

In the last election in 2009, 475 hopefuls registered but the Guardian Council only approved four candidates.