TEHERAN (dpa-AFX) – As the new President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in in parliament on Thursday. The 60-year-old arch-conservative cleric will officially succeed Hassan Ruhani, who was banned from running after two terms in office. As the top candidate of the political hardliners as well as the preferred candidate and proteg of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Raisi won the presidential election in June with just under 62 percent of the vote.
Born in 1960 in Maschad in northeastern Iran, Raisi is considered to be very influential within the Islamic system. He also maintains a close relationship with the Supreme Leader Khamenei. Raisi was with the judiciary for over three decades, and in 2019 he was appointed head of justice. He is said to have been responsible for numerous arrests and executions of political dissidents in his previous role as public prosecutor.
According to the constitution, Raisi is only number two in the country because Khamenei is the actual head of state and also has the last word in all strategic matters.
“I want a new Iran, the one of the 21st century, and a national reconciliation,” said Raisi after he was sworn in. He wanted the institutionalization of an Islamic democracy and, for this, the cooperation of all experts, regardless of political and ideological tendencies. “We shouldn’t waste time and opportunity on this path,” said the new president.
Regarding the nuclear dispute with the West, Raisi reiterated that Iran does not want a nuclear bomb. “Our nuclear program is peaceful and the building of atomic bombs is forbidden here for religious reasons and is not part of our political and military doctrine either.” In order to end the nuclear dispute, Iran will also follow rational diplomacy, but in the interests of national interests and without any foreign pressure. “However, the US sanctions must be lifted beforehand … and they will,” said the President. He did not say whether he would negotiate with archenemy USA in the nuclear dispute. The US makes the lifting of sanctions conditional on Iran meeting its obligations.
The US was under the then president in 2018 Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and gradually imposed massive sanctions on the country. In return, Iran gradually no longer adhered to its obligations. For several weeks now, attempts have been made in Vienna to get both sides to return to the nuclear deal.
Politically, Raisi is still a blank slate. In a speech on Tuesday he spoke of upheaval and changes in the status quo, with which he primarily wants to bring about a quick end to the acute economic crisis. His cabinet is to be presented to parliament on the weekend. The selection of vice-presidents and ministers will then give a more precise indication of his political course. It will also be interesting to know who he will be appointed to the new nuclear team for the negotiations.
In recent years, Raisi had sharply criticized the moderate course of his predecessor Ruhani several times – including the Vienna nuclear agreement of 2015. An agreement in the nuclear dispute is also the prerequisite for an end to the economic crisis he had promised. This agreement, in turn, would not be possible without negotiations with the USA. However, this is exactly what Raisi has always criticized in recent years, and the future of the agreement is therefore also uncertain.
Otherwise, the timing of Raisi’s inauguration is anything but ideal. Corona crisis, drought, water shortage, a controversial Internet law and protests in various parts of the country are weighing on the initial phase of his presidency. There is even a threat of a military conflict with archenemy Israel after Iran was blamed for an attack on an oil tanker owned by an Israeli businessman in the Persian Gulf.
According to state television, representatives from 80 countries took part in the swearing-in ceremony, including the presidents of Afghanistan and Iraq. The European Union was represented by Enrique Mora, Vice President of the EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell. Iran had expected more senior guests. Raisi is on the sanctions list of the USA and therefore also in Europe for human rights violations in the criticism./str/fmb/DP/zb