Hardline cleric wins landslide victory in Iran presidential election

Hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi has won a landslide in Iran’s presidential election and his rivals have conceded defeat, according to state TV.

Mr Raisi has taken an unassailable lead in the election, winning 17.8 million votes, an interior ministry official said.

His closest rival, Mohsen Rezaei, a senior conservative general, won just 3.3 million votes, while the sole reformist candidate, Abdolnaser Hemmati, a former central bank governor, took 2.4 million votes.

Foreign leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan have congratulated Mr Raisi.

However, Israel’s foreign ministry condemned Mr Raisi and said he is Iran’s most extreme president yet.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement: “An extremist figure, committed to Iran’s rapidly advancing military nuclear programme, his election makes clear Iran’s true malign intentions, and should prompt grave concern among the international community.”

Mr Raisi’s victory means hardliners will have full control over all branches of government in Iran for the first time in almost a decade, after ultraconservatives took a majority in last year’s parliamentary elections.

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Mr Raisi, a 60-year-old Shi’ite cleric who is subject to US sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, had been widely tipped to win the contest, in large part due to the support he had from supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently said Iran would abide by the agreement if the US and other countries did
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Iran’s outgoing president Hassan Rouhani will vacate the position in August

Mr Raisi’s only moderate rival Mr Hemmati said: “I hope your administration, under the leadership of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will make the Islamic Republic proud, improve livelihood and ensure the nation’s wellbeing and welfare.”

In a televised speech, outgoing president Hassan Rouhani congratulated “the people’s elected (president)”, without naming him and said he would ensure a smooth transition of power.

“Because it has not been officially announced yet, I will delay the official congratulations. But it is clear who received the votes,” Mr Rouhani said.

Over half of all eligible voters did not cast a ballot, with many boycotting the election over the economy and political restrictions, according to Reuters news agency.

Iran’s president is the second highest ranking official in the country, after the supreme leader.

Mr Raisi is a harsh critic of the West and has presented himself as the best candidate to fight corruption and improve Iran’s economic problems.

A supporter of Ebrahim Raisi holds a poster of him during an rally in Tehran
Image:
A supporter of Ebrahim Raisi holds a poster of him during a rally in Tehran

The election was held at a crucial time for the republic and the region – with US President Joe Biden’s administration seeking to ease tensions in the Middle East, which were inflamed by former president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the nuclear accord and impose sanctions on Iran in 2018.

Mr Raisi remains committed to continuing negotiations with the deal’s remaining signatories – the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China.

But he previously said domestic policies would be his key priority, notably reviving an economy crippled by US sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Raisi is considered a potential candidate for replace Mr Khamenei, who served as president twice before being appointed in Iran’s most powerful position.

Mr Raisi lost in his previous run for president in 2017, but was this time boosted by the support from the supreme leader and a lack of choice of other candidates.

A hardline election body, the Guardian Council, barred moderate and conservative candidates from standing in the elections.

Source Link: http://news.sky.com/story/iran-presidential-election-hardline-cleric-ebrahim-raisi-set-for-landslide-victory-12336311

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