Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s fourth president and a leading moderate voice in the country, has died at the age of 82, according to Iranian state media.
For decades, the Shiite Muslim politician played an outsize role in Iranian politics. An aide to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the country’s 1979 revolution, Rafsanjani went on to lead Iran just a decade later.
He served as Iran’s president from 1989 to 1997, and has been credited with the country’s recovery from a long war with neighboring Iraq in the ’80s.
NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports that Rafsanjani enjoyed a kind of renaissance as an influential reformer late in his political career.
“Rafsanjani tried to run for president again in 2005, but was defeated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He made another attempt in 2013, but in a controversial move, Iran’s guardian council disqualified him.
“Voters instead chose the candidate most aligned with Rafsanjani’s pragmatic views, Hassan Rouhani. Many Iranians saw Rafsanjani as a mentor to Rouhani, and his influence rose.”
Rafsanjani’s death leaves President Rouhani without his “political soul mate” — in the words of The Washington Post — and leaves other moderates in the country without one of their leading lights.
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