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Presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi ​attends an election debate at a tv studio, in Tehran, Iran June 8, 2021. Morteza Fakhri Nezhad/YJC/WANA (West Asia Information Company) through REUTERS
  • Born in 1960 to a non secular household in Iran’s metropolis of Mashhad, Raisi was lively within the 1979 revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah.
  • A win for Raisi, 60, an implacable critic of the West whose political patron is Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would burnish his probabilities of in the future succeeding Khamenei on the pinnacle of energy, analysts say.
  • Raisi signalled his help for talks with world powers aimed toward reviving a 2015 nuclear deal.

Ebrahim Raisi’s file of fierce loyalty to Iran’s ruling clerics helps clarify why the senior decide is a front-runner in Friday’s presidential election, a contest the authorities have restricted virtually solely to candidates like him.

A win for Raisi, 60, an implacable critic of the West whose political patron is Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would burnish his probabilities of in the future succeeding Khamenei on the pinnacle of energy, analysts say.

Accused by critics of human rights abuses stretching again a long time — allegations his defenders deny — Raisi was appointed by Khamenei to the high-profile job of judiciary chief in 2019.

Later that 12 months, Raisi headed the authorized system as authorities used the courts to suppress the bloodiest political unrest for the reason that 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran says its authorized system is unbiased and never influenced by political pursuits.

“Raisi is a pillar of a system that jails, tortures, and kills people for daring to criticise state policies,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of New York-based advocacy group the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), in a statement.

Iran denies it tortures prisoners.

A mid-ranking figure in the hierarchy of Iran’s clergy, Raisi has been a senior judiciary official for most of his career. He served as deputy head of the judiciary for 10 years, before being appointed prosecutor-general in 2014.

Gaining a reputation as a feared security hawk, he was one of four judges who oversaw executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, rights groups say. Amnesty International has put the number executed at around 5,000, saying in a 2018 report that “the true quantity might be greater”.

Support for Iran Talks

The CHRI said that those executed were “buried in unmarked mass and particular person graves, primarily based on the committee’s dedication of their ‘loyalty’ to the newly established Islamic Republic. These prisoners had already been tried and had been serving their issued jail sentences”.

Iran has never acknowledged mass executions. However, some clerics have said the trials of the prisoners were fair, and those judges involved should be rewarded for eliminating the armed opposition in the revolution’s early years. Raisi himself has never publicly addressed allegations about his role.

In 2020, UN human rights experts called for accountability over the 1988 deaths, warning “the state of affairs could quantity to crimes towards humanity” if the Iranian authorities continued to refuse to carry accountable these concerned.

The USA in 2019 sanctioned Raisi for human rights violations, together with the Eighties executions and his half within the suppression of unrest in 2009.

Raisi, who misplaced to pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani in 2017, has provided no detailed political or financial programme throughout his election marketing campaign whereas wooing lower-income Iranians by promising to ease unemployment.

Nevertheless, by promising to not “waste a single moment” in eradicating US sanctions, Raisi signalled his help for talks with world powers aimed toward reviving a 2015 nuclear deal.

A Raisi presidency would strengthen Khamenei’s hand at dwelling, and rights activists concern it may usher in additional repression.

Subsequent supreme chief?

With the rejection of distinguished reasonable and conservative candidates by a hardline vetting physique, voters could have a alternative solely between hardliners and low-key moderates within the election.

Turnout is predicted to be a file low amid rising anger over financial hardship and curbs on private freedoms.

“By taking its exclusionary strategies to a new height, the Guardian Council has left no space for surprise,” mentioned Ali Vaez, senior adviser on the Worldwide Disaster Group.

An election win may enhance Raisi’s probabilities of succeeding Khamenei, who himself served two phrases as president earlier than turning into supreme chief upon the founding father of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 loss of life, analysts say.

“Raisi is someone that Khamenei trusts … Raisi can protect the supreme leader’s legacy,” mentioned Sanam Vakil, deputy director of Chatham Home’s Center East and North Africa Program.

Born in 1960 to a non secular household in Iran’s metropolis of Mashhad, Raisi was lively within the 1979 revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah and continues to proclaim his constancy to the “fundamental values” of Khamenei.

“The deep state is willing to go as far as undermining one of its pillars of legitimacy to ensure that Ayatollah Khamenei’s vision for the revolution’s future survives him when Raisi takes over the Supreme Leader’s mantle,” mentioned Vaez.

Vaez was referring to the republican pillar of Iran’s twin system of clerical and republican rule. Critics say a hardline election physique’s rejection of main reasonable and conservative hopefuls to enter the election race has cleared the best way for tyranny, a cost Iranian authorities deny.

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