Iran elects ultraconservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi as the new president

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The Interior Ministry of Iran announced on Saturday that Ebrahim Raisi has won the presidency by securing the majority vote – 18 million of the 28.9 million ballots cast – in the recent presidential elections which many skipped, calling it already rigged. The voter turnout was 48.8 per cent, a significant decline from the last presidential elections in 2017.

Raisi, who is already sanctioned by the United States in part for his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, scored a landslide victory in presidential elections. His three rivals – Former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei, moderate candidate Abdolnasswer Hemmati and conservative Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi – had conceded hours before the official victory announcement on Saturday.

The election of Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of the Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, became more of a coronation when his strongest competition suddenly found themselves disqualified for running.

Raisi will take office in August, replacing the moderate President Hassan Rouhani who was not allowed by the constitution to run for the third consecutive term.

Raisi, who wears a black turban to signify that he is a direct descendent of Prophet Muhammad, is seen as the second in command in the country after the Supreme Leader Ali Khameini. His election marks a consolidation of power of the conservative and hardline group, which already control Iran’s parliament.

Ebrahim Raisi has become the first Iranian president to be sanctioned by the United States long before his ascendancy to the presidency. Raisi was blacklisted by the US in 2019 for his significant role in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988 and his involvement in the crackdown on 2009 Green Movement protests, and “administration of oversight over the executions of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime”.

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