Dubai: Abdulnasser Hemmati, the lone moderate candidate in Iran’s presidential election, accepted defeat early Saturday at the hands of his rival and hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi. This indicates that, even though the counting of votes is still going on after the voting on Friday and the result has not been declared officially, but a staunch supporter of the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi’s victory is almost certain.
Hemmati, a moderate candidate and former chief of Central Bank, and Mohsin Rezai, a former Revolutionary Guard commander, congratulated Raisi. Government-affiliated opinion polls and analysts have termed Raisi as the strongest of the four candidates contending for the post. With Raisi’s official declaration of victory, he will be the first Iranian president to have been sanctioned by the US before taking office. He was banned in 1988 for the mass murder of political prisoners and as the head of the internationally criticized Iranian judiciary.
Accepting defeat early in an election is nothing new in Iran’s elections. This indicates that Raisi has won this carefully controlled vote. Some people have boycotted these elections. This time the voting percentage seems to be much lower than the last presidential election of 2017. Hemmati congratulated Raisi via Instagram early Saturday and wrote, “I hope your administration will provide the Islamic Republic of Iran with a reason to be proud, improving life and economy with the welfare of the great nation Iran.”
Rezai tweeted praises for Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote. Rezai wrote, “The decisive selection of my respected brother Ayatollah Dr. Syed Ebrahim Raisi promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the problems of the country.” Raisi’s victory will further strengthen hardliners’ grip on the Iranian government and come at a time when talks with world powers continue in Vienna to try to salvage Iran’s derailed nuclear deal.
Iran is currently enriching uranium on a large scale. Its tensions with the US and Israel have increased significantly due to this. The two countries are believed to have carried out several attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities and the assassination of the scientist who built its military nuclear program decades ago.