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‘A great loss for Iran’

20 May 2024 ‘A great loss for Iran’

Tehran, Iran – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, seen as a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed after his helicopter crashed in poor weather in mountains near the Azerbaijan border, officials and state media said on Monday.

The charred wreckage of the helicopter, which crashed on Sunday carrying Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers and crew, was found early on Monday after an overnight search in stormy conditions.

The body of Raisi and the other victims of Sunday’s helicopter crash will be transferred on Tuesday from Tabriz to the northeastern city of Mashhad, where Raisi was born, according to Fars news.

Supreme Leader Khamenei said First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, would take over as interim president, the official IRNA news agency reported.

“I announce five days of public mourning and offer my condolences to the dear people of Iran,” Khamenei said in a statement.

Under the Islamic Republic’s constitution, a new presidential election must be held within 50 days. Any candidate must first be vetted by the Guardian Council.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani was appointed as acting foreign minister following the death of Amirabdollahian, IRNA said.

The spokesperson for Iran’s Guardian Council – a powerful 12-member council in charge of overseeing elections and legislation – has called the death of President Raisi “a great loss for the Iranian nation”.

“Just as the leader of the Islamic Republic stated, the affairs of the country will not be disrupted,” spokesman Hadi Tahan told Iranian state news agency Press TV.

Messages of condolences poured in from Iran’s regional neighbours and allies, including the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Iraq and Pakistan.

President Xi Jinping called the “tragic death” of Raisi “a great loss to the Iranian people and the Chinese people have lost a good friend”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Raisi “a true friend of Russia”. The Kremlin said he had spoken to Mokhber by phone and both stressed “mutual intention to further strengthen Russian-Iranian interaction”.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “deeply shocked and saddened”.

There was less reaction from Western capitals, though the European Union and Japan expressed condolences.

Agencies

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