The former Iran President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died at the age of 82 due to heart attack on Sunday. According to agencies his last rites will be held on Tuesday. He has been president of Iran from 1989 to 1997.
Known as “pillar of Islamic revolution” in Iran for his pivotal role in the 1979 revolution, but later in life became a counterpoint to hardline conservatives, and was instrumental in softening of Iran’s stand vis-à-vis economic liberalization and relations with western powers.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei hailed him as a “companion of struggle” despite their differences, saying that the loss was “difficult and overwhelming”.
Rafsanjani’s death has dealt a blow to the liberals and pro-reformist section of Iranian politics. He had since long been a prime figure in the struggle between the country’s moderates and conservatives during his rule from 1989 to 1997. His demise is a blow to moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s election campaign which is scheduled to be held in May this year. The former president had campaigned to help Rouhani win the 2013 elections.
In a tweet, President Hassan Rouhani said: “The soul of the great man of the Revolution, symbol of patience and resistance, has gone to Heaven.”
Rafsanjani was also instrumental in the end of Iran-Iraq war in 1988. In the last year of the war (1980-88), Ayatollah Khomeini appointed him acting commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He was seen as the main mover behind Iran’s acceptance of the UN Security Council resolution that ended the war. He was also a key player in the development of Iran’s nuclear programme. He was advocated progressive economic policies, encouraging private businesses and improving infrastructure.
(With inputs from agencies Chauthi Duniya Bureau.)