Ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi was declared the winner of Iran’s presidential election on Saturday, a widely anticipated outcome after many political heavyweights were barred from running.
Raisi won just under 62 percent of the vote in Friday’s election, according to official figures, with a turnout of 48.8 percent, a record for a presidential poll in the Islamic Republic.
Raisi, 60, is expected to take over at a critical time as Iran seeks to salvage its tattered nuclear deal with the major powers and break free from US sanctions that have led to a deep economic crisis.
The Iranian justice chief, whose black turban signifies the direct descent of the Prophet of Islam Mohammed, Raisi is considered close to the 81-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds ultimate political power in Iran.
Many voters chose to stay away after the field of some 600 candidates including 40 women was reduced to seven candidates, all men, excluding a former president and a former president of the parliament.
– “Save the people” –
The ultra-conservative Mohsen Rezai, a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, came second with 11.8% of the votes cast.
Khamenei hailed the election saying that “the big winner … is the Iranian nation because it has once again risen up against the propaganda of the enemy mercenary media”.
“Whether I vote or not, someone has already been elected,” Tehran trader Saeed Zareie said. “They organize the elections for the media.
Of those who lined up to vote in schools, mosques and community centers, many hailed Raisi, who pledged to fight corruption, help the poor and build millions of apartments for families. low income.
– ‘Maximum pressure’ –
For opposition and human rights groups, his name is linked to the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. The US government sanctioned him for the murders, in which Raisi denied any involvement.
Ultimate power in Iran, since its 1979 revolution toppled the US-backed monarchy, rests with the supreme leader, but the president wields major influence in areas ranging from industrial policy to foreign affairs.
But high hopes for greater prosperity were dashed in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
As the old and new US sanctions hit Iran, trade dried up and foreign companies fled. The economy plunged and soaring prices fueled repeated episodes of social unrest that were quelled by security forces.
Despite this, Iranian politicians, including Raisi, have expressed broad agreement that the country should seek to end US sanctions.
But they warned that “his radical, anti-Western views constitute a clear break with Rouhani’s more moderate positions and will have a significant impact on Tehran’s relations with the outside world.”