Iran’s Khamenei confirms Mohammad Mokhber as interim president

The supreme leader also appoints nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani as acting FM and announces five days of mourning.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with the families of IRGC officials in Tehran, May 19, 2024 [File: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA via Reuters]

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has confirmed that Mohammad Mokhber will take over as interim president following the death of Ebrahim Raisi.

Ali Khamenei, who wields ultimate power in Iran, confirmed that the first vice president will become acting head of the country’s executive branch on Monday, hours after it was confirmed that Raisi had been killed in a helicopter crash.

The need to replace the governmental leadership is pressing as Iran remains in the midst of heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Israel’s war in Gaza has prompted lower-level conflicts with Iran-backed groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. Last month, Iran and Israel swapped direct strikes at one another.

The appointment of Mokhber, who became vice president in 2021 when Raisi was elected president and is seen as being close to Khamenei, is in line with the constitution.

“[Mokhber] is obliged to arrange with the heads of the legislative and judicial branches to elect a new president within a maximum of 50 days,” Khamenei noted, a requirement also set out by the constitution.

Iranian President Raisi dies in helicopter crash
A view of the wreckage of President Raisi’s helicopter at the crash site in Varzaghan, northwestern Iran [WANA via Reuters]

The wreckage of the helicopter carrying Raisi, as well as Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and six other passengers as well as crew, was found on Monday morning after an overnight search in poor weather.

Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s lead negotiator on its nuclear programme, has been appointed as acting foreign minister following the death of Amirabdollahian.

Khamenei also announced five days of mourning in a statement published by the state news organisation IRNA, adding that he offers his “condolences to the dear people of Iran”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies