SMA NEWS – TEHRAN
Ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi was Tuesday inaugurated as president of Iran, a country whose hopes of shaking off a dire economic crisis hinge on reviving a nuclear deal with world powers and on stability at home.
“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 Ali Khamenei wrote in a decree read out by his chief of staff.
Raisi replaces moderate president Hassan Rouhani, whose landmark achievement was the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers.
From the outset, Raisi will have to tackle negotiations aimed at reviving the nuclear deal from which the US unilaterally withdrew imposing sweeping sanctions.
Raisi, in his inaugural speech, said his government would seek to lift “oppressive” US sanctions, but would “not tie the nation’s standard of living to the will of foreigners”.
The 60-year-old also faces the United States, Britain and Israel’s warnings to Iran over a deadly tanker attack last week for which Tehran denies responsibility.
Raisi won a presidential election in June in which more than half the electorate stayed away after many political heavyweights were barred from standing.
A former judiciary chief, he has been criticised by rights advocates and the Iranian opposition for his dismal human rights record, especially the sentencing and execution of dissidents.
Traffic limitations were in force on streets around the inauguration venue with domestic air travel to and from the capital banned for two hours, media reports said.
Tuesday’s ceremony marked Raisi’s formal accession to office. He will then be sworn in before parliament on Thursday when he is to submit his proposed government line-up.