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Masoud Pezeshkian is elected president of Iran

New Iranian president Masoud Pezeshkian Majid Asgaripour/Wana via Reuters
New Iranian president Masoud Pezeshkian
  • Reformist defeats Saeed Jalili
  • Follows Ebrahim Raisi
  • Raisi died in helicopter crash

Masoud Pezeshkian urged people on Saturday to stick with him on “the difficult road ahead” after beating Saeed Jalili in the run-off for Iran’s presidential election.

The election was called following the death of former president Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in May.

Pezeshkian, a 69-year-old cardiac surgeon, has pledged to promote a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact and improve prospects for social liberalisation and political pluralism.

Whether he can deliver on those promises remains to be seen as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, not the president, is the ultimate authority in the Islamic Republic.

“Dear people of Iran, the election is over, and this is just the beginning of our working together,” Pezeshkian said in a post on social media platform X/Twitter.

“A difficult road is ahead. It can only be smooth with your cooperation, empathy and trust.

“I extend my hand to you and swear on my honour that I will not abandon you on this path. Do not abandon me.”

Turnout was almost 50 percent in Friday’s vote, following historically low turnout in the first round ballot on June 28, when over 60 percent of Iranian voters abstained.

Videos on social media showed Pezeshkian’s supporters dancing in streets in many cities and towns across the country and motorists honking car horns to cheer his victory.

The election coincided with escalating regional tension due to the conflicts between Israel and Iranian allies Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as increased Western pressure on Iran over its fast-advancing nuclear programme.

Under Iran’s dual system of clerical and republican rule, the president cannot usher in any major policy shift on Iran’s nuclear programme or support for militia groups across the Middle East, since Khamenei makes decisions on top state matters.

However, the president can influence the tone of Iran’s policy and he will be closely involved in selecting the successor to Khamenei, now 85.

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