Born in 1934 and entered the political arena in the 1980s, Iran’s ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been a dominant figure in the country’s politics until his death at the age of 82.
Reports suggest that Mr. Rafsanjani died as a result of a heart attack, as highlighted on BBC.
He was the country’s president since 1989 to 1997 but lost in 2005 to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As much as Mr Rafsanjani was seen as a staunch religious man, some regarded him to have a soft spot for the West. He mainly focused on seeing his country get better ties with nations all over the world, particularly the west.
Just before his death he had been serving as the head of Expediency Council that was tasked with improving relationships between the Guardian Council and parliament. However, his powers had by this time waned.
Mr. re-entered the Iran presidential race in 2013 as a reformist candidate but was disqualified by a 12-member council. This council is a dominant force whose role is purely interpretation of the constitution.
But in denouncing the decision, the former president said that country couldn’t be in any worse situation than it currently is.
He then threw his candidate behind Hassan Rouhani, who became victorious by using the slogan “moderation and prudence.”
BBC News reported that these two had a warm relation. There is likelihood that he first received the news of his friend’s death before it could be made public. A crowd reportedly gathered at the hospital after the announcement said that Rouhani was seen leaving the hospital in which Rafsanjani body lay.
Is his death a blow to reforms?
President Rouhani is among those directly hit by the sudden demise of veteran pragmatist politician. The current president has seen more ally break ranks with him even as he gears up for the May elections. Among those who have left his camp include iconic founding fathers of the Islamic Republic.
That basically points out some of the reasons why he was among the top officials who went to see Mr Rafsanjani upon his death. Media outlets report that he left the hospital with tears in his eyes.
Ever since his election in 2013, Rafsanjani has showed Mr Rouhani nothing but full support. The former was a key participant in the 2015 nuclear deal reached with the world powers.
Via The Telegraph
Ever since he lost a re-election bid in 2005, Mr Rafsanjani openly criticized President Ahmadinejad.
In 2009, he sided with reformers who disputed that year’s elections, although the hardline Mr Ahmadinejad won a second term.
Fight for political prisoners
Mr Rafsanjani has been on the forefront calling for the release of political prisoners. He has also championed for the freedom of political parties that are willing and ready to operate within the constitution.
The former Commander-in-chief was once a student of theology in the holy city of Qom with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomein. With his religious background, he organized the Islamic revolution in 1979 and got arrested severally.
He was appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini in the final years of the 1980-88 war with Iraq at an acting position as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Among his major attributes include the struggles for progressive economic policies, infrastructure development and establishment of private businesses.