Ebrahim Raisi, the hard-line leader of the judiciary with a brutal human rights record, won Iran’s controversial presidential elections.
Rice, who is currently under US sanctions, topped the list after the electoral watchdog banned all of his serious rivals from participating. Analysts have described the vote as the most “irresistible” since the Islamic Republic was established in 1979.
According to election officials, in 90% of the vote counts, voter turnout was approximately 48%. Very few voters turned out for this election, which was seen as predictable, compared to 2013, when turnout surpassed 0%.
Raisi has received more than 17.7 million votes so far, followed by another Conservative who received 3.3 million votes, Mohsen Rezai. The only moderate candidate, Abdalnas Hemmati, received 2.4 million votes.
A voter casts his vote at a polling station in Tehran on Friday.
President-elect Raisi will officially take office in 45 days, making him the eighth president of Iran. Until then, Hassan Rouhani will be the interim president of Iran.
The election comes at a crucial time for Iran. The next government will have to deal with the economic crisis exacerbated by the Kovid-1p epidemic and call for a constitutional reform. Tehran is currently in talks with the United States on how to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.
Raisi’s election will further fuel speculation that he is one day preparing to succeed his close ally, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as Iran’s supreme leader. Under the country’s political system, it is ultimately the supreme leader, not the president, who makes the final call on all the great issues of the state.
Despite Khamenei’s numerous appeals urging people to vote, a large section of Iranian society cleared the country’s polling stations on Friday. Preliminary figures show that the overwhelming number of votes went to conservative candidates, indicating that more reformist Iranians have boycotted the elections.
Many leaders accused the country of “choosing” the country’s religious institutions in lieu of the upcoming presidential elections, objecting to what they saw as heavy engineering elections designed to further ensnare the country’s radical clerical rulers, despite calls for reform.
Rice originally campaigned on an anti-bribery platform: a clear attempt to ease voters’ frustrations with US sanctions and an economy blamed for crippling government corruption.
However, for most of his career, he played a prominent role in the trial of Iranian political prisoners.
In 1986, Rice was part of a four-member “death panel” that according to human rights groups, up to 5,000 political prisoners were executed. His two years as president of the Supreme Court of Iran were marked by intense repression of dissent and human rights abuses. Amnesty International demanded on Saturday that he be investigated for crimes against humanity.
Rice has never commented on the allegations, but it is believed that he rarely left Iran for fear of retaliation or international justice.
Outgoing Iranian President Rouhani also went to Raisio to congratulate him.
Rice has long opposed engagement with the West and has repeatedly praised the benefits of Iran’s so-called “resistance economy,” which promotes economic self-reliance in the face of Western sanctions.
But experts say his election is unlikely to affect indirect talks with the United States about restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Saturday he expected talks on a return to terms. The deal will “likely” end before Rouhani’s term expires in August.
The Vienna talks are going well and an agreement is likely to be reached before August, but there are still obstacles, Zarif said.
If the talks continue during Rice’s tenure, they will largely depend on who the next president appoints as foreign minister. In 2015, the success of the deal, which saw Iran limit its uranium enrichment program in exchange for easing sanctions, was largely attributed to Zarif.
But experts say Iran is unlikely to be involved with the West outside of a nuclear deal, ensuring its strong ties with Russia and China. After the possible restoration of the nuclear deal, it has become less sensitive to Western criticism of its rights violations, which could lead to any pretense of democracy.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Raisi. Russia’s state media Rhea Novosti said he expected “further development of constructive bilateral cooperation in various fields, as well as interaction in international affairs.”