Iran’s former president Rafsanjani dies aged 82
Rafsanjani considered second most powerful political figure for much of Islamic Republic’s history
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, died at a hospital in north Tehran on Sunday, according to the local news agencies. Photograph: Ebrahim Noroozi/AP
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s greatest political survivor who served as president for two consecutive terms, has died aged 82.
Mr Rafsanjani, who was considered the country’s second most powerful political figure for much of the Islamic Republic’s history, died at a hospital in north Tehran on Sunday, according to the local news agencies.
Mr Rafsanjani, a founding member of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, was a close confidant of the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for much of the 1980s and 1990s but his political allegiances shifted towards reformists most recently, specially after a rift grew between him and the ayatollah over the 2009 disputed presidential elections.
His death will deal a blow to moderates, particularly the current president, Hassan Rouhani, of whom he was a major backer. Mr Rafsanjani voiced moderate support for Iran’s Green movement in 2009 while the ayatollah stood firm by the then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and denied any allegations of vote rigging.
The rift between the ayatollah and Mr Rafsanjani meant the latter was sidelined in recent years, but until his death he was the head of Iran’s expediency council, an influential body that mediates between the parliament and the guardian council.
He was also a senior member of Iran’s assembly of experts, which is tasked with appointing the country’s next supreme leader. In 2013, his bid for presidency was blocked. Two of his children have been jailed in recent years.
In June, Mr Rafsanjani had revealed in a newspaper interview that two people had been shortlisted by the assembly to become candidates to succeed the ayatollah but there has been no official confirmation about the candidates.