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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi appears to be like on at a polling station throughout presidential elections in Tehran, Iran June 18, 2021. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) through REUTERS


By Parisa Hafezi

DUBAI (Reuters) -Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline choose who’s underneath U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses, secured a landslide victory on Saturday in Iran’s presidential election after a contest marked by voter apathy over financial hardships and political restrictions.

With all 28.9 million ballots counted, Raisi was elected with a tally of 17.9 million, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli stated on state TV. Turnout in Friday’s four-man race was a document low of round 48.8%.

Appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the high-profile job of judiciary chief in 2019, Raisi was positioned underneath U.S. sanctions a couple of months later over human rights violations.

Those included the function that human rights group say Raisi performed within the executions of 1000’s of political prisoners within the 1988 and within the violent suppression of unrest in 2009.

Iran has by no means acknowledged the mass executions, and Raisi himself has by no means publicly addressed allegations about his function.

Seen by analysts and insiders as representing the safety institution at its most fearsome, Raisi, 60, had been broadly tipped to win the competition, because of Khamenei’s endorsement.

While Iran’s regional allies, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, militant Islamist teams Hamas and Hezbollah welcomed Raisi’s election, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard stated his victory was “a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran”.

“We continue to call for Ebrahim Raisi to be investigated for his involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law, including by states that exercise universal jurisdiction,” she stated in a press release.

Outgoing pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, barred by the structure from in search of a 3rd time period, visited Raisi at his workplace to congratulate him, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated he would lead Iran properly.

“We will stand by and cooperate fully with the president-elect for the next 45 days, when the new government takes charge (in early August),” state media quoted Rouhani as saying.


Raisi’s election comes at a important time.

Iran and 6 main powers are in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear deal. Donald Trump, U.S. president on the time, deserted the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions which have squeezed Iran’s oil earnings.

However, with Iran’s ruling clerics conscious their political fortunes depend on tackling worsening financial hardships, Raisi’s win won’t disrupt Iran’s effort to revive the pact and break freed from robust U.S. oil and monetary sanctions.

Nonetheless, some analysts predicted his hardline stances may deter overseas buyers.

“Raisi’s hardline political and economic beliefs will limit the scope for significant foreign investment if a deal is reached and further isolate Tehran from the West,” stated senior analyst Henry Rome at Eurasia Group.

Khamenei, not the president, has the final say on all problem of state similar to Iran’s overseas and nuclear insurance policies.

“We will make every effort in the new government to solve the problem of people’s livelihoods,” state media quoted Raisi as saying.

Seeking to win over voters preoccupied by bread-and-butter points, Raisi has promised to create thousands and thousands of jobs and sort out inflation, with out providing an in depth political or financial programme.


Hoping to spice up their legitimacy, the nation’s clerical rulers had urged folks to end up and vote on Friday, however simmering anger over financial hardships and curbs on freedoms stored many Iranians at residence.

Khamenei stated the turnout displayed the clerical institution’s recognition. But greater than half of eligible voters had been too dissatisfied to vote or appeared to have heeded calls by a whole bunch of dissidents, at residence and overseas, to boycott the vote.

Another deterrent for a lot of pro-reform voters was an absence of selection, after a hardline election physique barred heavyweight moderates and conservatives from standing.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson stated on Friday: “Iranians were denied their right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair electoral process” – a probable reference to the disqualification of candidates.

Many pro-reform Iranians concern Raisi’s presidency may usher in additional repression.

“I am scared. I don’t want to go back to jail again. I am certain that any kind of dissent will not be tolerated,” stated Hamidreza, 31, who declined to present his full identify. He was jailed for taking part in unrest in 2019 that broke out over gas worth hikes and rapidly turned political.

Analysts say the election win may enhance Raisi’s probabilities of succeeding Khamenei, who himself served two phrases as president earlier than changing into supreme chief in 1989.