Israel criticizes hardliner’s victory in Iranian presidential vote

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Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran's presidential elections waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, June 18, 2021 (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran's presidential elections waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran, Iran Friday, June 18, 2021. Iran began voting Friday in a presidential election tipped in the favor of a hard-line protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, fueling public apathy and sparking calls for a boycott in the Islamic Republic. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Israel’s foreign minister criticized Iran’s election of hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi as the country’s next president on Sunday.

“The new president of Iran is a radical who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweeted, adding that Raisi was known as the “butcher of Tehran.”

“His election should awaken a new determination to immediately halt Iran’s nuclear programme” and put an end to Tehran’s destructive regional aspirations, he said.

Raisi, a 60-year-old arch-conservative cleric who is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is accused by the United States and the European Union of rights abuses, is set to succeed moderate President Hassan Rowhani.

Raisi would mark a significant change in direction for the government in Iran after eight years under Rowhani, who was barred from running again due to term limits after two stints in office.

Raisi received more than 60 per cent of the vote, according to the Interior Ministry, after Friday’s election.

It was the lowest voter turnout ever and more than 20 percentage points lower than the turnout recorded at the elections four years ago.

Observers say the low turnout can be seen as a boycott and a warning from voters that they are unhappy with the country’s political direction.

A spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Raisi’s election had been forced on the public and that the incoming leader was Iran’s most extremist president so far.

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