Pezeshkian: Iran's new reformist president

Pezeshkian, 69, won around 53.6 percent of the vote in a runoff election against the ultraconservative Saeed Jalili.
Iran's new reformist President Masoud Pezeshkian
Iran's new reformist President Masoud PezeshkianPhoto | X - @drpezeshkian

Masoud Pezeshkian, Iran's only reformist candidate in the latest presidential election, has risen from relative obscurity to become the ninth president of the Islamic Republic.

Iran's new reformist President Masoud Pezeshkian
Reformist Pezeshkian wins Iran's presidential runoff election, besting hard-liner Jalili

Pezeshkian, 69, won around 53.6 percent of the vote in a runoff election against the ultraconservative Saeed Jalili.

In the first round of Iran's snap elections on June 28, Pezeshkian led the polls against three other conservative figures, stunning supporters and rivals alike. Pezeshkian's victory has raised the hopes of Iran's reformists after years of dominance by the conservative and ultraconservative camps.He will replace late ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi who died in a May helicopter crash.

"The difficult path ahead will not be smooth except with your companionship, empathy, and trust. I extend my hand to you," Pezeshkian said in a post on X, after on Tuesday saying he would "extend the hand of friendship to everyone" if he won.

In the lead-up to the elections, Iran's main reformist coalition threw its weight behind Pezeshkian, with former presidents Mohammad Khatami and the moderate Hassan Rouhani declaring support for his bid.

Pezeshkian takes over the presidency amid heightened regional tensions over the Gaza war, a dispute with the West over Iran's nuclear programme and domestic discontent over the state of Iran's sanctions-hit economy.

- 'Out of isolation' -

The outspoken heart surgeon had publicly criticised the Raisi government over its handling of the death in custody of Iranian Kurd Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic's strict dress code for women.

In a post on Twitter, now known as X, at the time, he called on the authorities to "set up an investigation team" to look into the circumstances behind her death.

In recent campaigning, he has maintained his stance, criticising the enforcement of mandatory hijab laws which require women to cover their head and neck in public since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"We oppose any violent and inhumane behaviour towards anyone, notably our sisters and daughters, and we will not allow these actions to happen," he said.

He also vowed to ease internet restrictions and to involve ethnic minorities in his government.

Pezeshkian was born in 1954 to an Iranian father of Turkic origin and a Kurdish mother in the city of Mahabad in the northwestern province of West Azerbaijan.

He has represented Tabriz in Iran's parliament since 2008, served as health minister in Khatami's government, and supervised sending medical teams to the war front during the Iran-Iraq conflict between 1980 and 1988.

In 1993, Pezeshkian lost his wife and one of his children in a car accident. He never remarried and raised his remaining three children -- two sons and a daughter -- alone.

Campaigning on behalf of Pezeshkian was Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's combative former foreign minister who helped secure the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which fell through three years later.

Pezeshkian has called for reviving the accord -- which sought to curb Tehran's nuclear activity in return for sanctions relief -- to get Iran "out of isolation".

"If we manage to lift the sanctions, people will have an easier life while the continuation of sanctions means making people's lives miserable," he said during a televised interview.

Pezeshkian will be tasked with applying state policy outlined by the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who wields ultimate authority in the country.

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The New Indian Express