Iran Elects New President After Raisi’s Death

( – The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, has died in a helicopter crash. Viewed as a contender to succeed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the US had denounced Raisi for his hardline stance and his role in executing thousands of civilians in the 1980s. Mr. Raisi died along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and government officials when their helicopter crashed near the Iranian border with Azerbaijan.

Israel immediately denied any involvement in the incident, with a spokesperson stating, “It wasn’t us.”

The 63-year-old was known as deeply committed to the Islamic regime and as one of the theocracy’s most brutal and hardline leaders. He was responsible for Iran’s first-ever direct attack on Israel recently and ordered the brutal crackdown on women’s rights groups protesting the death of Mahsa Amini – a young woman who died in police custody following her arrest for incorrectly wearing her Islamic head covering the hijab.

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, described Raisi as a “pillar of a system that jails, tortures, and kills people.” He added that the President’s death permitted him to avoid accountability for his crimes.

In 1988, Raisi sat on a panel of four Islamic judges that sentenced thousands of activists to death. The political prisoners, some as young as 13, were said to have been involved in the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation that attempted to topple the regime two years earlier. The exact number killed is unknown, but estimates range from 2,000 to 30,000.

According to the Iranian Constitution, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will take over as the country’s interim leader. National elections will follow within 50 days, and candidates and their speeches will be tightly controlled.

The US and EU both say that Mr. Mokhber is responsible for confiscating the property of critics and denying fundamental rights to Iranian civilians. He promised to take over the country’s leadership “without any interruption.”

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