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Iran: PM Modi congratulates President-elect Pezeshkian; to work for deepening ties

Iran: PM Modi congratulates President-elect Pezeshkian; to work for deepening ties

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: Securing 53.7 percent of the votes polled, Iran’s president-elect Masoud Pezeshkian has promised to take the cooperation of all Iranians in his first remarks after winning the crucial election runoff against hardline rival Saeed Jalili.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday congratulated the newly-elected President of Iran, Masoud Pezeshkian. In a message, he expressed his eagerness to work with the new President to strengthen and deepen the long-standing relationship between India and Iran.

In a post on X, PM Modi said, “Congratulations @drpezeshkian on your election as the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Peesshkian realizes the tough road ahead. “The difficult path ahead will not be smooth except with your companionship, empathy, and trust,” he said in a post on X on Saturday. “I extend my hand towards you and swear on my honor that I will not leave you alone on this path. Don’t leave me alone,” he wrote.

The Ministry of Interior said on Saturday: “By gaining (the) majority of the votes cast on Friday, Pezeshkian has become Iran’s next president.”

He secured 53.7 percent of the votes, or 16.3 million of the over 30 million votes cast, according to the official count. His rival Jalili received 44.3 percent or 13.5 million votes.

Conceding defeat, Jalili said anybody elected by the people must be respected.

“Not only should he be respected, but now we must use all our strength and help him move forward with strength,” he told state television, according to the media reports on Saturday.

Joyous people in the national capital Tehran celebrated after the results were declared, with small groups of Pezeshkian supporters taking to the streets.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was among several world leaders who congratulated Pezeshkian, saying: “I hope that your tenure as president will contribute to a reinforcement of constructive bilateral cooperation between our friendly peoples.”

Altogether 49.8 percent of voters cast their vote in a tight race between Pezeshkian, the sole moderate in the original field of four candidates pledging to open Iran to the world, and the former nuclear negotiator Jalili, who is a staunch advocate of deepening Iran’s ties with Russia and China.

The run-off on Friday followed a June 28 ballot with a historically low turnout, when more than 60 percent of Iranian voters abstained from the snap election to elect a successor to President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

In the June election, Pezeshkian received about 42.5 percent of votes and Jalili nearly 38.7 percent.

Only 40 percent of 61 million eligible voters cast their ballot in June, the lowest turnout in any presidential election since the 1979 Shia Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Nearly 50 percent of Iranians didn’t vote as some didn’t “have faith that the election will bring any change, whether the winner is a conservative or a reformist”. In a ‘silent protest,’ others boycotted the election.

Iran’s ninth-elected president since 1979 will next have to be officially endorsed in a ceremony by the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after which he will be sworn in at the parliament.

Pezeshkian’s victory might lead to a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over the now-stalled negotiations with major world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal and improve prospects for social liberalization in Iran where irate women have been leading an anti-veil agitation since September 2023.

Both the finalist presidential candidates had promised to revive the flagging economy, beset by mismanagement and sanctions reimposed since 2018 after the United States then-President Donald Trump unilaterally ditched the nuclear deal.

Although seen as a reformist, Pezeshkian will be in charge of applying state policy outlined by Khamenei, who wields ultimate authority in the country.


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