Jun 20 2021
DUBAI, June 19 (Reuters) - Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline judge who is under U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses, secured victory as expected on Saturday in Iran’s presidential election after a contest marked by voter apathy over economic hardships and political restrictions.
With all 28.9 million ballots counted, Raisi was elected with a tally of 17.9 million, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on state TV.
Turnout in Friday's four-man race was a record low of around 48.8% and there were 3.7 million invalid ballots that were likely to have been mostly blank or protest votes.
Appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the high-profile job of judiciary chief in 2019, Raisi was placed under U.S. sanctions a few months later over human rights violations.
Those included the role that human rights group say Raisi played in the executions of thousands of political prisoners in the 1988 and in the violent suppression of unrest in 2009.
Iran has never acknowledged the mass executions, and Raisi himself has never publicly addressed allegations about his role.
Seen by analysts and insiders as representing the security establishment at its most fearsome, Raisi, 60, had been widely tipped to win the contest, thanks to Khamenei’s endorsement.
Iran’s regional allies, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and militant Islamist group Hamas welcomed Raisi’s election. Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard said his victory was “a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran”.
“We continue to call for Ebrahim Raisi to be investigated for his involvement in past and ongoing crimes under international law, including by states that exercise universal jurisdiction,” she said in a statement.
Outgoing pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, barred by the constitution from seeking a third term, visited Raisi at his office to congratulate him, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he would lead Iran well.
"Backed by your high vote and exceptional confidence, I will form a hard-working, revolutionary and anti-corruption government," state media quoted Raisi as saying in a statement.
Raisi, who takes office in early August, said he will be a president for all Iranians - whether they voted for him or for the other candidates, or did not vote at all.