Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, led prayers in Tehran on Wednesday at the funeral of President Ebrahim Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday. This somber event comes as the clerical establishment hurries to organize an election to find Raisi’s successor, a task made more urgent by the growing public discontent and the need to bolster the regime’s legitimacy.

The election to replace Raisi is scheduled for June 28 and will be a crucial test for the government to mobilize a population that showed little interest in the 2021 election that brought Raisi, a hardline cleric, to power. His presidency was characterized by overseeing the day-to-day operations of the government amidst worsening relations between the clerical leadership and the broader society, marked by increasing political and social restrictions and a deteriorating economy.

The declining voter turnout in recent elections is a significant concern for the leadership, as high participation is seen as a measure of the Islamic Republic’s credibility. A former Iranian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, highlighted the challenges the establishment faces in securing a high turnout on such short notice, citing widespread dissatisfaction with the economy and social restrictions, coupled with a lack of appealing electoral options.

State television broadcasted images of Supreme Leader Khamenei leading prayers amidst tens of thousands of mourners in Tehran. Raisi’s coffin, along with those of Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and other officials who perished in the crash near the Azerbaijan border, was carried over the heads of weeping mourners. Raisi is to be buried in his hometown of Mashhad on Thursday.

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