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Who is Masoud Pezeshkian, the new President of Iran?

The 69-year-old cardiac surgeon has pledged to promote a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact and improve prospects for social liberalisation and political pluralism.
Last Updated : 06 July 2024, 06:48 IST

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Iran's president-elect, low-profile moderate Masoud Pezeshkian, carries the hopes of millions of Iranians seeking less restrictions on social freedoms and a more pragmatic foreign policy.

Pezeshkian, who defeated hardline Saeed Jalili in Friday's second-round presidential vote, is someone world powers are likely to welcome, hoping he might pursue peaceful ways out of a tense standoff with Iran over its fast-advancing nuclear programme, analysts said.

Pezeshkian managed to win with a constituency - whose core was believed to be the urban middle class and young - that had been widely disillusioned by years of security crackdowns that stifled any public dissent from Islamist orthodoxy.

Who is Massoud Pezeshkian?

Massoud Pezeshkian is a 69-year-old cardiac surgeon who has defeated hardliner Saeed Jalili in the run-off presidential elections of Iran.

He is of Azerbaijani and Kurdish descent.

The 69-year-old cardiac surgeon has pledged to promote a pragmatic foreign policy, ease tensions over now-stalled negotiations with major powers to revive a 2015 nuclear pact and improve prospects for social liberalisation and political pluralism.

Pezeshkian is faithful to Iran's theocratic rule with no intention of confronting the powerful security hawks and clerical rulers. In TV debates and interviews, he has promised not to contest Khamenei's policies.

As a lawmaker since 2008, Pezeshkian, an Azeri who supports the rights of fellow ethnic minorities, has criticised the clerical establishment's suppression of political and social dissent.

In 2022, Pezeshkian demanded clarification from authorities about the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died in custody after she was arrested for allegedly violating a law restricting women's dress. Her death sparked months of unrest across the country.

During the Iran-Iraq war in 1980s, Pezeshkian, a combatant and physician, was tasked with the deployment of medical teams to the front lines.

He was health minister from 2001-2005 in Khatami's second term.

Pezeshkian has also served as the first Deputy Speaker of Iran's Parliament from 2016 to 2022. In the 1970s, he was the governor of two counties in West Azarbaijan Province.

A vocal supporter of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp., Pezeshkian had condemned the USA when it declared the IRGC a terrorist organisation.

This is not the first time Pezeshkian has contested the Iranian presidential elections, doing so earlier in 2013 and 2021. While he withdrew from the race in his first attempt, in the second attempt, voters rejected the reformist politician.

Pezeshkian lost his wife and one of his children in a car accident in 1994. He raised his surviving two sons and a daughter alone, opting to never remarry.

With Reuters inputs

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Published 06 July 2024, 06:48 IST

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