Interim leader appointed after Iran president killed in helicopter crash News
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Interim leader appointed after Iran president killed in helicopter crash

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday named a caretaker president and outlined constitutionally mandated succession plans following Ebrahim Raisi’s death in a helicopter crash.

The helicopter carrying Raisi and foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian  crashed in foggy conditions in northeastern Iran on Sunday, according to official state media. Search and rescue teams found no survivors after reaching the wreckage site hours later. Others on board included a provincial governor, a local representative of Khamenei, and the flight crew.

Article 131 of Iran’s constitution states that if a president were to die while holding office, their first deputy would fulfill the responsibilities of the deceased, and work with representatives of the judicial and legislative branches to ensure a new president can be elected within 50 days.

In a speech Monday, Khamenei announced that in accordance with Article 131, Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, would run the country’s executive branch and arrange for new presidential elections within 50 days. The ayatollah also announced five days of formal mourning for the crash victims.

Khamenei referred to Raisi as a “martyr” in his speech, a sentiment echoed in the country’s official media outlets, but not shared by all — particularly domestic activists and international advocates troubled by the country’s rights record.

“For many Iranians, Raisi’s dominant legacy will be that of a career criminal whose commission of human rights violations spanned all four decades of the Islamic Republic,” Gissou Nia, director of the Atlantic Council’s Strategic Litigation Project, stated following the announcement of Raisi’s death. In March, a UN fact-finding mission reported that institutional discrimination against women and girls in Iran had enabled human rights violations and crimes against humanity in Iran. In the World Justice Project’s latest index, Iran ranked 126th out of 142 countries when compared by rule of law indicators.

The Foreign Ministry separately announced that Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani would serve in his deceased boss Amirabdollahian’s role for the time being.