Iran’s new president vows unity in 1st address amid high expectations

Iran’s President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian speaks during a gathering with his supporters at the shrine of Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Tehran, Iran, July 6, 2024. Credit Photo/Reuters

By Daily Sabah

Iran’s newly elected president, Masoud Pezeshkian, delivered his first public address since winning the presidential runoff vote, emphasizing collaboration with parliament and the judiciary to tackle Iran’s pressing challenges.

He spoke before hundreds of supporters at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini shrine, marking the occasion with his inaugural speech as the country’s leader.

Pezeshkian, a veteran reformist lawmaker, defeated conservative rival and former lead nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili by securing 16.3 million votes out of a total of 30.5 million, compared to Jalili’s 13.5 million.

Voter turnout was recorded at 49.8%, significantly higher than the previous round on June 28 (40%) and the last presidential election in 2021 (48.8%).

He offered to cooperate with other branches of the government, including parliament and the judiciary, pledging to “eliminate divergence from policy and governance.”

The former health minister and lawmaker from the northwestern city of Tabriz expressed hope that parliament “in alignment with the majority vote of the people, prepares itself to cooperate with the government to navigate through crises.”

Notably, the Iranian parliament, which was reelected in March, is dominated by conservatives. Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf was one of the five presidential hopefuls in the first round.

Pezeshkian acknowledged the burden of the people’s verdict in the July 5 election and vowed to be the “voice of the voiceless and the marginalized.”

He described governing under current conditions as challenging and pledged to promote “dialogue, convergence and national unity” to address the country’s issues.

The president-elect also extended an olive branch to supporters of his presidential rival, urging them to “join hands” for Iran’s prosperity.

“To all those who did not participate in this election, I say it is time to see you and hear your words,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, Pezeshkian met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following his victory in the presidential runoff election.

According to state media, Khamenei congratulated Pezeshkian on securing a majority vote and expressed satisfaction with the increased voter turnout in this round.

The supreme leader expressed hope that the new president would utilize the people’s capacities and the country’s abundant resources to advance progress and development.

Gulf reaction

Leaders of the Gulf countries congratulated President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian following his victory in the presidential election, according to official statements.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia sent a congratulatory message to the Iranian president, expressing his wishes for “success, prosperity, and the continued development of relations between the two brotherly countries and their peoples,” according to the Saudi Press Agency, SPA.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also conveyed “best wishes for success and continued progress,” according to SPA, emphasizing his commitment to “enhance and strengthen relations between our two countries and peoples, advancing common interests.”

United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan congratulated Pezeshkian via a tweet, saying, “We extend our congratulations to His Excellency President-elect Masoud Pezeshkian on his victory in the fourteenth presidential election of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“We look forward to strengthening bilateral relations for the benefit of our nations and peoples, and to working together to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” he added.

The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, also extended his congratulations: “Sincere congratulations to Dr. Masoud Pezeshkian on the occasion of his election to the position of President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The Qatari emir wished the new Iranian president “every success in serving his country towards greater prosperity and development, for the benefit of our region and the world, wishing the Republic’s government and people continued progress and prosperity.”

The emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Mishal Al Ahmad Al Sabah, and Crown Prince Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah also sent congratulatory messages to Pezeshkian, extending wishes for continued progress in Iran, according to the Kuwait News Agency.

Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said of Oman also sent a congratulatory message to Pezeshkian, according to the official Omani News Agency.

The reformist candidate and former health minister, Masoud Pezeshkian, won the second round of the presidential election with 53.7% of the votes, becoming the country’s ninth president.

The presidential election followed a tragic helicopter crash in East Azerbaijan province on May 19, which claimed the lives of President Ibrahim Raisi and his foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian.