Tehran: Iran's supreme leader officially endorsed his hard-line protege as the nation's next president on Tuesday, just two days ahead of the inauguration of Ebrahim Raisi at a sensitive time for Iran and the wider Middle East.
"Following the people's choice, I task the wise, indefatigable, experienced and popular Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Raisi as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei wrote in a decree read out by his chief of staff.
There was heightened security in Tehran for the ceremony with airports closed for two and a half hours, and traffic restrictions in place on the streets near the venue of the ceremony, the capital's Traffic Police announced.
Ex-Judiciary chief Raisi secured sixty percent of the votes cast in the country's 13th presidential election. He replaces moderate president Hassan Rouhani, whose landmark achievement was the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers.
Critics charge the June 18 presidential election was skewed in Raisi's favour as strong rivals were disqualified, but to his loyal supporters he is Iran's best hope for standing up to the West and bringing relief from a deep economic crisis.
Raisi is not renowned for great charisma but, as head of the judiciary, has driven a popular campaign to prosecute corrupt officials.
Considered ultraconservative, 60 year old Raisi, portrays himself as a pious figure and corruption-fighting champion of the poor.
Without commenting specifically on the stalled nuclear negotiations in Vienna, Raisi stressed in his speech he would "pursue the removal of oppressive sanctions" in order to salvage the crippled economy.
"We will not (tie) the people's dining tables and the economy to the will of the foreigners," he said. Raisi won a landslide victory in the June election, which saw the lowest in the Islamic Republic's history. He will take the oath of office in an inauguration ceremony Thursday before parliament.
Raeisi will take an oath of office in an inauguration ceremony at the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) on Thursday.
Nezamoddin Mousavi, the spokesman for the Parliament's presidium, said Monday that a long list of foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the event despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said 115 officials from 73 countries have already declared their readiness to attend the inauguration ceremony.
The list includes 10 heads of state, 20 parliament speakers, 11 foreign ministers and 10 ministers, as well as special envoys, deputy parliament speakers and chairmen of parliamentary commissions and parliamentary delegations, the lawmaker said.
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