Rahbar declares five days of mourning over loss of president and companions

Developing Just Leadership

Crescent International

Dhu al-Qa'dah 12, 1445 2024-05-20

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

The Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei expressed deep grief over the loss of President Ebrahim Raeisi and his companions in a helicopter crash.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Friday prayer leader of Tabriz Seyyed Ali Al-e Hashem, East Azerbaijan governor Malek Rahmati, head of the president’s security Mehdi Mousavi and three crew members also died in the crash.

In paying tribute to the tireless services of President Raeisi, the Rahbar declared five days of mourning on Monday.

According to Article 131 of Iran’s Constitution, the senior Vice President assumes responsibilities if the president is incapacitated or passes away.

Mohammad Mokhber assumed responsibilities once news of President Raeisi’s demise was confirmed.

The constitution also stipulates that elections for a new president must be held within 50 days.

These must be done in consultation with the Majlis (parliament) speaker and the head of the judiciary.

The Rahbar urged Mokhber to make these arrangements in accordance with the constitution.

Ali Bagheri was appointed Iran’s foreign minister succeeding the late Amir Abdollahian.

President Raeisi, the foreign minister and other members of his delegation were returning after attending the inauguration ceremony of a dam on the Aras River.

The May 19 inauguration ceremony was also attended by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

When the fleet of three helicopters took off after the ceremony, the weather was clear.

On the way back to Tabriz, heavy fog suddenly engulfed the mountainous region of Dizmar forest.

Unlike fixed-winged aircraft, helicopters cannot fly higher to avoid cloud or fog cover.

The president’s helicopter went down in heavy fog in the forest which is located between the cities of Varzaqan and Jolfa.

The helicopter is believed to have crashed into a mountain peak.

The two other helicopters lost touch with the president’s helicopter and immediately notified authorities in Tabriz.

Rescue teams were dispatched to the area but extreme fog, rain and cold weather hampered rescue efforts at night.

It was not until Monday morning (May 20) that rescue teams reached the downed helicopter.

There were no survivors.

The bodies were transported to Tabriz where funeral services will be held on May 21 before they are transferred to Tehran for a state funeral.

There will be another funeral ceremony in the holy city of Qom before the late President’s body is sent to Mashhad for burial.

Messages of condolences have poured in from around the world including from leaders of regional countries as well as Russia and China.

President Xi Jinping said China had lost a “true friend of the Chinese people”.

In his condolence message to the Rahbar, Russian President Vladimir Putin said President Raeisi had strived hard to cultivate friendship with Russia.

He called him a “true friend of Russia”.

Putin also spoke to interim president Mokhber on the phone and expressed the desire to continue to deepen ties.

Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan said his country stands with Iran in this difficult time and is willing to extend all help.

Turkiye had sent drones with night vision capabilities to locate the downed helicopter.

Hizbullah and Hamas expressed deep sorrow at the loss of President Raeisi and Foreign Minister Abdollahian calling them sincere friends of the resistance movements.

Syria and Lebanon also declared three days of mourning.

Condolence messages were also sent by European Union president Charles Michel and Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell.

Islamic Iran has faced many challenges since the victory of the Islamic revolution in early 1979.

It has weathered all such challenges and come out stronger.

This tragedy will be no exception.

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