Iran’s ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani dead

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s President from 1989 to 1997.   | Photo Credit: ATTA KENARE

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pugnacious political survivor despite his support for moderates, died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack, news agencies reported.

Mr. Rafsanjani, who was 82, was a pivotal figure in the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, and served as President from 1989 to 1997.

He had been admitted to the Shohadaa Hospital in northern Tehran, one of his relatives, Hossein Marashi, was quoted as saying by the agencies.

“Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was transferred to hospital after a heart attack,” Reza Soleimani, a speaker of the Expediency Council, Iran’s main political arbitration body which Mr. Rafsanjani chaired.

Mr. Rafsanjani’s death is a huge loss for both reformists and moderates, as he stood as a pillar for the two camps.

Mr. Rafsanjani was born on August 25, 1934, in the village of Nough in southern Iran into a wealthy family.

He studied theology in the holy city of Qom before entering politics in 1963 after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s police arrested the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

A confidant of Khomeini, Mr. Rafsanjani was the Speaker of Parliament for two consecutive terms until Khomeini’s death in 1989.

Mr. Rafsanjani’s presidency, a breathing space after the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, was marked by reconstruction, cautious reform and repairs to Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbours.

But it was also marred by human rights violations, rampant inflation and difficult relations with Europe, not least with Britain after the “death sentence”, or fatwa, handed down to writer Salman Rushdie by Khomeini.

After serving a maximum two consecutive terms, Mr. Rafsanjani played an important role in the election of the reformist Mohammad Khatami, who succeeded him as President from 1997 to 2005.

Mr. Rafsanjani was always a member of Iran’s top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts, charged with appointing — and if required dismissing — the country’s supreme leader.

Mr. Rafsanjani chaired the influential committee for several years. — AFP

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 7:42:16 PM |

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