Ebrahim Raisi, a loyalist to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, won a landslide victory in Iran’s June 18 presidential election, reported Iranian media.

Raisi garnered 61.9 percent (17.9 million) of the votes versus his next-closest challenger, Mohsen Rezaei, a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, who secured 11.7 percent, or 3.4 million, according to Iran’s semi-official PressTV.

Turnout was the lowest in the Islamic Republic’s history with only 28.9 million of 59 million eligible voters casting ballots, reported Iran International, an independent, London-based Persian TV station.

While Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iranians to vote, in what is being reported as an embarrassment to the regime, some 3.7 million (or 12.8 percent) voided their ballots. Commentators say the voided ballots were either a “no vote” or a protest because certain popular candidates, like former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were banned from running, according to Iran International. Some wrote “Batman” on their votes, Israel Hayom reported.

Raisi, who has served as head of Iran’s judiciary since 2019, will replace Hassan Rouhani as president. Raisi, who was Khameini’s pick for the post, is linked with Iran’s 12-member Guardian Council, a powerful body in Iran that oversees legislation and determines the final list of candidates.

Amnesty International protested Raisi’s election, saying he had been part of the “death commission” that executed thousands of political dissidents in 1988.

“That Ebrahim Raisi has risen to the presidency instead of being investigated for the crimes against humanity of murder, enforced disappearance and torture, is a grim reminder that impunity reigns supreme in Iran,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett slammed the election result during his first Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“In Iran, a new president was elected this weekend—Ebrahim Raisi. For those who have doubts, it is not the public who chose, it is Khamenei that allowed them to choose. They chose the ‘hangman from Tehran.’ The choice of Raisi is the last signal for the world powers to wake up, to see who they are doing business with, just before returning to the nuclear deal. A regime of executioners must not possess weapons of mass destruction.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted, “The new president of Iran is an extremist, a man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians. His election should provoke a renewed determination to immediately halt Iran’s nuclear program and put an end to its destructive regional ambitions.”

Opinion is divided on the impact the elections will have on ongoing negotiations in Vienna to renew the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers in 2015.

According to AP, the U.S. State Department said it hoped to push forward with the talks “regardless of who is in power.”


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