Iranian vice president to become acting president until election, supreme leader says

The new president will be elected in 50 days and run the country for four years.

May 20, 2024, 6:28 AM

LONDON -- With the news of Iranian President Raisi's death in a helicopter crash confirmed, Iran's first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, will take over with the supreme leader's approval, based on Article 131 of the Islamic Republic's constitution.

The article also clarifies that a council consisting of the head of the legislation, the head of the judiciary and the vice president must coordinate choosing a new president within 50 days.

In a statement issued Monday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei applied the article and assented Mokhber as acting president.

In this file photo, Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber welcomes Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq (not pictured) upon his arrival at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Iran, May 28, 2023.
Wana News Agency via Reuters

"Mr Mokhbar is in the position of managing the executive branch, and he is obliged to arrange with the heads of the legislative and judicial branches to elect a new president within a maximum of fifty days," the statement said.

The Guardian Council of the country, the body responsible for holding the elections, said that the next president will run the country for four years, not just for the remaining terms of Raisi's term.

"The elected president in the next election is the president who will begin a 4-year term," said Hadi Tahan Nazif, spokesperson of the council, according to the official Fars News Agency.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with the families of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran, Iran, May 19, 2024.
Office Of The Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA via Reuters

Ibrahim Raisi was elected as the eighth president of the Islamic Republic in the 2021 election.

The vote was marred by a low turnout -- which the regime considers a key factor in justifying its legitimacy -- with a turnout of 48.8%, the lowest turnout of all presidential elections since the 1979 revolution.

With sensitivities about the succession of 85-year-old Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic, who has the ultimate power in the theocratic regime, experts said Raisi's death may precipitate a crisis for the country's leadership.

"In Iran's conspiratorial political culture few will believe Raisi’s death was accidental," Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment think tank, said on Sunday.

One of the first decisions that Mokhber made as the acting president was appointing Ali Bagheri Kani as acting foreign minister.

Bagheri Kani is a relative of the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He was working as deputy foreign minister to the late foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian who was killed in the chopper crash with President Raisi.

Bagheri Kani's most prominent role was being a member of the negotiating team during the failed talks that were aimed to revive the Iranian nuclear deal with the world powers, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Bagheri Kani is a critic of the former negotiating team which signed the original JCPOA with the world powers, saying that deal had ignored many of the Iranian red lines. His views are very close to those of the supreme leader.

Related Topics