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Iran's new president Hassan Rohani takes office

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-03

Hassan Rohani was endorsed as Iran's new president by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saturday. Many hope that Rohani, a moderate cleric, can help ease tensions with the West.

Hassan Rohani on Saturday was endorsed as Iran's seventh president by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in what many hope will mark a decided shift in relations between the West and the Islamic republic.

Rohani, a 64-year-old moderate cleric, was the surprise winner of elections in June and will begin a renewable four-year term as the country’s president over the weekend.

He will assume Iran’s highest elected office at a ceremony in the afternoon (1230 GMT) presided over by Khamenei. On Sunday, Rohani will take the oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony in parliament.

The president-elect’s endorsement by the supreme leader comes a day after Rohani allegedly made controversial comments about Iran's arch-foe Israel.

Rohani reportedly described the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as a “wound” on the Muslim world. Iranian state TV later claimed he had been misquoted. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly rebuked the cleric, saying that despite the confusion over the quote, “this is what [Rohani] thinks and reflects the regime's plans.”

Following his endorsement by the supreme leader and his swearing-in ceremony, Rohani will have two weeks to name his cabinet and the conservative-ruled parliament will have 10 days to review and approve or reject the list.

Post Ahmadinejad

Rohani will become Iran’s seventh president after two turbulent terms under the outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

His time in office was marked by a brutal crackdown on opponents following disputed presidential elections in 2009, a virtual stalemate with world powers over the Islamic state’s nuclear programme, ballooning animosity vis-à-vis Israel, and economic woes because of international sanctions.

A nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005, Rohani has pledged more positive international engagement, and more transparency regarding its nuclear ambitions, which Tehran has consistently maintained are for peaceful civilian use.

In a sign that the Obama administration hopes to more seriously negotiate with Rohani, the White House this week declined to publicly back tough new sanctions on Iran approved by the US Congress.

In what may also be a gesture of appeasement toward Washington, Iran’s president-elect has said he intends to choose former UN ambassador Mohammad Javad Zarif as foreign minister.

Zarif has been at the centre of several informal efforts to overcome US-Iranian estrangement. The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since 1980, shortly after students and Islamic militants stormed the US Embassy in Tehran.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2013-08-03

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