TehranIran’s supreme leader formally endorsed Hassan Rouhani as president in a ceremony broadcast on state television on Thursday, after Rouhani secured a second term in a landslide election win on May 19.
Addressing religious, military and political leaders, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prayed for “the success of a worthy person”.
Symbolizing the endorsement, Ayatollah Khamenei handed over the presidential mandate to Rouhani. The leader kissed Rouhani on the forehead and the new president kissed the leader on his shoulder, a sign of supplication.
Ayatollah Khamenei once again called for Iran to achieve economic self-sufficiency and build a “resistance economy”. He has repeatedly criticized the slow pace of economic recovery since most international sanctions on Iran were lifted last year.
Khamenei applauded the high turnout and “enthusiastic participation” in the May election as “signs of the success of the Islamic Republic in reinforcing the republican and popular character of the revolutionary government.”
Khamenei urged the new administration to focus its efforts on “establishing justice, siding with the poor and implementing the rules of pure Islam,” adding that authorities should also work to strengthen “national unity.”
Ayatollah Khamenei further said Iranian officials have succeeded to cooperate with the world despite enemy attempts to isolate the nation.
The sanctions imposed on Iran helped the country to grow powerful and self-reliant as the nation turned to the resources and capabilities at home, he added.
Rouhani is seen as a pragmatist in contrast to hardline clergy surrounding Khamenei, and officials and analysts have cast doubt on his ability to balance their demands and expectations with those of his supporters.
“We will never accept isolation,” Rouhani said in his address.
“The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage,” he said, referring to the 2015 agreement with world powers to curb its atomic programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions.
However, his inauguration came less than 24 hours after fresh sanctions were imposed by US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to tear up the nuclear deal entirely.
Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate who has faced fierce criticism from conservatives for his efforts to rebuild ties with the ‘antagonist’ West, issued a call for unity.
“I declare once again that with the election concluded, the time for unity and cooperation has begun,” he said.
“I extend my hand to all those who seek the greatness of the country.”
Under Rouhani’s watch, Iran reached a landmark deal with six major powers in 2015 under which it agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions which had been in place for a decade.
In May, Rouhani won re-election in a landslide after securing 57 percent of the votes and defeating his main contender Ebrahim Raeisi, a hardline cleric.
Under Iran’s election law, the president-elect is required to gain the Leader’s official approval before being sworn in at the nations Parliament, the Majlis. Through this process, called Tanfiz (validation), the Supreme Leader affirms the outcome of the presidential election.
After being sworn in on Saturday, Rouhani will have two weeks to present his cabinet to the parliament for a vote of confidence.
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