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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

What happens in Iran when a president dies in office?

Raisi was elected president in 2021 and, under the current timetable, presidential elections are due to take place in 2025.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his foreign minister were killed in a helicopter crash in mountainous terrain and icy weather, an Iranian official said on Monday, after search teams located the wreckage in East Azerbaijan province.

Below is a brief outline of what Iran’s constitution says happens if a president is incapacitated or dies in office:

According to Article 131 of the Islamic Republic’s constitution, if a president dies in office, the first vice president takes over, with the confirmation of the supreme leader, who has the final say in all matters of state.

Read more: Pakistan announces one day of mourning on Iranian President Raisi death

A council consisting of the first vice president, the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary must arrange an election for a new president within a maximum period of 50 days.

Raisi was elected president in 2021 and, under the current timetable, presidential elections are due to take place in 2025.

Who is Ebrahim Raisi?

Raisi has been president of the Islamic Republic since June 2021, succeeding the moderate Hassan Rouhani, for a term during which Iran has faced crisis and conflict.

He took the reins of a country in the grip of a deep social crisis and an economy strained by US sanctions against Tehran over its contested nuclear programme.

Iran saw a wave of mass protests triggered by the death in custody of Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini in September 2022.

In March 2023, regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia signed a surprise deal that restored diplomatic relations.

The bombardment in Gaza that began on October 7 sent regional tensions soaring again and a series of tit-for-tat escalations led to Tehran launching hundreds of missiles and rockets directly at Israel in April 2024.

In a speech following Sunday’s dam inauguration, Raisi emphasised Iran’s support for Palestinians, a centrepiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“We believe that Palestine is the first issue of the Muslim world and we are convinced that the people of Iran and Azerbaijan always support the people of Palestine and Gaza and hate the Zionist regime,” said Raisi.

Raisi, born in 1960 in northeast Iran’s holy city of Mashhad, rose early to high office. Aged just 20, he was named prosecutor-general of Karaj next to Tehran.

Read more: World leaders react to sudden death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi

He served as Tehran’s prosecutor-general from 1989 to 1994, deputy chief of the Judicial Authority for a decade from 2004, and then national prosecutor-general in 2014.

His black turban signifies direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed, and he holds the religious title of “Hujjatul Islam”, literally “proof of Islam”, one rank below that of ayatollah in the Shiite clerical hierarchy.

In Iran’s dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is Raisi’s 85-year-old mentor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader since 1989, who has the final say on all major policies.

For years, many have seen Raisi as a strong contender to succeed Khamenei, who has endorsed Raisi’s main policies.

Raisi’s victory in a closely managed election in 2021 brought all branches of power under the control of hardliners, after eight years when the presidency had been held by pragmatist Hassan Rouhani and a nuclear deal negotiated with Washington.

However, Raisi’s standing may have been dented by widespread protests against clerical rule and a failure to turn around Iran’s economy, hamstrung by Western sanctions.

He was in Pakistan on a three-day visit last month where the two sides committed to increasing the trade volume to $10 billion over the next five years and attempted to mend ties after tit-for-tat missile strikes in January.