6 Jul 2024

Iran: Reformist leader Masoud Pezeshkian elected President; what is his stance on Hijab, relations with West?

Reformist leader Masoud Pezeshkian has won the presidential election in Iran. He has defeated hardline leader Saeed Jalili. Jalili, 58, who lost, is Iran's former nuclear negotiator who is widely recognised for his uncompromising anti-West stance.

According to the election results, out of the 3 crore votes counted so far, Dr. Masoud Pezeshkian has got 53.3 percent votes while Jalili has got 44.3 percent votes.

No candidate got majority in the first round of voting on June 28. During that time, the lowest ever voting in Iran was 40 percent.

Supporters celebrate

Supporters of Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon and longtime lawmaker, entered the streets of Tehran and other cities before dawn to celebrate as his lead grew and victory became apparent over Jalili – a former nuclear negotiator close to Iran’s supreme leader.

Pezeshkian thanked his supporters who came to vote "with love and to help" the country.

Pezeshkian's stance on relations with West, Hijab

Pezeshkian has called for "constructive relations" with Western countries to revive the nuclear deal in order to "get Iran out of its isolation".

Pezeshkian vowed to ease long-standing internet restrictions and to "fully" oppose police patrols enforcing the mandatory Hijab for women, a high-profile issue since the death in police custody in 2022 of Mahsa Amini.

Pezeshkian promised no radical changes to Iran's Shia theocracy (theocracy=a country that is ruled by religious leaders) in his campaign and long has held the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as the final arbiter of all matters of state. But even Pezeshkian's modest aims will be challenged by an Iranian government still largely held by hardliners.

Former President of Iran Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash in May this year while he was in office.

Ebrahim Raisi was returning after inaugurating a dam in East Azerbaijan province when his helicopter crashed. Nine people, including the President and the Foreign Minister, died in this accident.

After that, elections were held for a new President in Iran.

Former president was known for his involvement in mass executions

Many knew Raisi for his involvement in the mass executions that Iran conducted in 1988, and for his role in the bloody crackdowns on dissent that followed protests over the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained by police over allegedly improperly wearing the mandatory headscarf , or hijab.

In April, Iran launched its first ever direct attack on Israel, while militia groups that Tehran arms in the region – such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and Yemen's Houthi rebels – are engaged in the fighting and have escalated their attacks.

Iran is enriching uranium at near weapons-grade levels and maintains a stockpile large enough to build several nuclear weapons, should it choose to do so, say experts.

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