Former Irani president Rafsanjani dies, aged 82

Monday, January 9, 2017

Yesterday, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, died in hospital in Tehran after a heart attack, Iran's state television reported. He was 82 years old.

Rafsanjani in 2015.
Image: Siamak Ebrahimi.

Born in 1934, Rafsanjani studied theology in Qom. He was one of the leaders of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran which overthrew the Shah to make Iran a religious republic. He was the first to hold, for nine years, the speakership of the post-revolution Iranian parliament. Rafsanjani was also appointed top representative of supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on the supreme defense council, effectively Iran's military commander-in-chief in 1988 for the end of the Iran-Iraq war.

The year after the end of Iran-Iraq war, Rafsanjani became president and led the country in post-war reformation and improving relations with other Arab nations. Rafsanjani was elected for a second term and served as president till 1997. In 2005, Rafsanjani participated in the presidential election, but lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Rafsanjani joined with the reformers in 2009 when hardliner Ahmadinejad was re-elected as the president. The Guardian Council blocked his candidature for the presidency in 2013, citing his age. Rafsanjani later supported moderate Hassan Rouhani, who won the 2013 election. Rouhani is to re-run in May of this year.

Rafsanjani's burial is scheduled for Tuesday.