The new Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, will take office this Thursday (5) before the Parliament, at a time when the country’s economy is suffering the effects of US sanctions, the health crisis and the negotiations of the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The ultra-conservative former head of the Judiciary Authority officially began his four-year term on Tuesday after being sworn in by the supreme guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Raisi, elected in the June elections, will be sworn in before Parliament at 5 pm local time (9:30 am EDT) and, according to the Iranian press, will present his government proposal.
The new ruler replaced the moderate Hasan Rohani, whose main achievement in his two terms was the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six Western powers.
But the country has faced a deep economic and social crisis since former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions.
“We believe that the economic position of the people is not favorable, both because of the hostility of our enemies and because of the weaknesses and problems within the country,” admitted Raisi on Tuesday.
Iran held six rounds of talks with world powers between April and June in Vienna, seeking to revive the nuclear deal, but the last round of dialogue ended on June 20 without a scheduled date for the next meeting.
The new government will seek to lift the “oppressive” sanctions, but “will not link the nation’s living conditions to the will of foreigners,” Raisi added.
The 60-year-old new president faces warnings from the United States, Britain and Israel about a deadly attack last week on an oil tanker, for which Tehran denies responsibility.
Iran has also been plagued by a deadly covid-19 outbreak, with more than four million cases and more than 92,000 deaths.
– Foreign guests –
According to Iranian media, senior officials from foreign countries such as Iraq, Niger, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania and Uzbekistan were invited to the swearing-in ceremony.
The presence of European nuclear negotiator Enrique Mora is also expected, who met this Wednesday in Tehran with the minister of Foreign Affairs, Javad Zarif, according to the local press.
The Raisi government will have to consolidate power in the hands of conservatives, who won the 2020 legislative elections, marked by the disqualification of thousands of reformist and moderate candidates.
The new president began work on Wednesday, chairing a meeting of the task force on the coronavirus and meeting with ministers from the outgoing government, according to the presidency’s website.
– Several challenges –
Raisi faces challenges on several fronts, noted several Iranian media outlets following his inauguration.
US sanctions choke Iran and its oil exports, while the economy contracted more than 6% in 2018 and 2019.
The president will have to “face several challenges due to the myriad of problems,” said an editorial in the ultra-conservative Kayhan newspaper on Wednesday, citing “unprecedented inflation”, high housing costs, recession and corruption.
Another ultra-conservative daily, Javan, cited the need to resolve in the short term the lack of water, electricity, basic products and vaccines in the country.
Tehran and other big cities began experiencing blackouts in July, which authorities attribute to the impact of drought on hydroelectric plants and rising demand for energy.
Meanwhile, protesters took to the streets of the southwestern province of Khuzistan to protest the lack of water.
The reformist newspaper Sharq urged the new government to “promote press freedom” and show great tolerance to allow “different speeches and voices” to emerge.
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