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Iran's acting President Mokhber addresses new parliament in first public speech after Raisi's death

Iran’s acting President Mohammad Mokhber addressed the new parliament on Monday, marking his first public speech since the helicopter crash that killed his predecessor, Ebrahim Raisi, and seven others last week.

Iran acting President Mokhber addresses new parliament in first public speech after Raisi's death snt
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First Published May 27, 2024, 8:20 PM IST

Iran’s acting President Mohammad Mokhber addressed the new parliament on Monday, marking his first public speech since the helicopter crash that killed his predecessor, Ebrahim Raisi, and seven others last week.

As Iran gears up for a presidential election in a month to replace Raisi, Mokhber, previously a behind-the-scenes bureaucrat, might be a potential candidate. The new hard-line parliament is set to select its speaker on Tuesday.

In his speech, Mokhber praised Raisi’s tenure, highlighting that Iran's crude oil production had risen to over 3.6 million barrels a day. This follows Oil Minister Javad Owji's announcement on Sunday that Iran is exporting around 2 million barrels a day, despite Western sanctions.

Mokhber also claimed that the country's economy remained stable under Raisi's leadership despite recent military actions in Iraq, Israel, and Pakistan.

“Three countries were hit. We hit Israel, people find that figures and indexes are the same in the morning when they wake up, price of hard currency is the same, inflation is the same, liquidity is the same and the market is full of people’s needs,” Mokhber claimed.

He further added, "This strength, this settlement and this power is not a usual thing, they all were because of guidance by the supreme leader and the sincere efforts of Ayatollah Raisi.”

The Iranian rial has fallen dramatically from a rate of 32,000 rials to $1 at the time of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Today, it stands around 580,000 to $1 following the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the accord and a series of attacks on shipping in the Middle East, initially attributed to Iran and later involving Yemen’s Houthi rebels as Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip began over seven months ago.

Additionally, during his weekly press briefing on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani stated that despite Raisi’s death, the country’s support for “the oppressed people of Palestine and resistance groups (pursuing) the unalienable rights of the Palestinians to the liberation of their land and standing against the usurping Zionist regime” would continue as usual.

Kanaani also stated that efforts to lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic would continue. “There has been no change in the approach or the structure of our indirect talks (with the US) within the framework of negotiations to remove unfair sanctions. We will continue diplomatic effort within the same framework and with the same approach," he said.

The United States is the primary sanctioning body for hundreds of Iranian businesses and individuals that are alleged to have materially supported foreign militant groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis, as well as Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

After a deadly helicopter crash on May 20, rescuers found the bodies of Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, and other people in a mountainous area of northwest Iran.

To replace Raisi, Iran will hold presidential elections on June 28. Analysts have speculated that Mokhber may be among the candidates who register when the five-day window for doing so opens on Thursday.

In the meantime, Monday was the first day of the newly elected Iranian parliament, which was established in the wake of the lowest turnout of any election since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in March. Hardliners control more than 230 seats out of the 290 members of the body, according to an Associated Press survey.

Although it can put more pressure on a presidential administration to approve major laws like the annual budget, the parliament of Iran has little say in national affairs. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the 85-year-old Supreme Leader, has the last word on all significant state affairs.

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