Rafsanjani, Iran leader whose life mirrored nation’s, dies

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In this May 11, 2013 file photo, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, waves to journalists, as he registers his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, with his daughter Fatemeh, second right, at the interior ministry, in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

The man largely credited with leading the reformist movement in Iran has died. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, instrumental in the 1979 Islamic revolution, was 82. State media reports he suffered a heart attack.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone takes a look at his long life in Iranian politics.

Rafsanjani, Iran leader whose life mirrored nation's, dies

Rafsanjani, Iran leader whose life mirrored nation's, dies

The man largely credited with leading the reformist movement in Iran has died. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, instrumental in the 1979 Islamic revolution, was 82. State media reports he suffered a heart attack. CGTN's Jessica Stone takes a look at his long life in Iranian politics.

Iranian state television broke in with the news Sunday: Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the nation’s major political players is dead.

On the streets outside the Tehran hospital where Rafasanjani succombed to a heart attack, mourning had already begun.

“He (Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani) was a revolutionary and freedom-seeking cleric who stuck up for the people’s’ votes. It is such a pity that the nation has lost a political leader and guide.” Saeed Karimi, Rafsanjani supporter:

Rafsanjani has been described as “a pillar of the Islamic revolution” but later became a powerful voice for reform. He served as president from 1989 to 1997 during which he worked to promote a free market economy while cracking down on dissidents, Communists and Kurds.

Rafsanjani also oversaw key developments in Iran’s nuclear program. Over the course of his political life, Rafsanjani survived efforts to sabotage him and even assassinate him. At the time of his death, Rafsanjani led the country’s Expediency Council, an advisory body, and served on the group which selects the supreme leader.

Rafsanjani was instrumental in the 2013 election of current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The death of Rafsandjani is seen as a huge blow for Iran’s reform movement, and for Rouhani, who is running for election in May.

Rouhani released a statement in Farsi reading: “The soul of the big man of revolution and politics, symbol of patience and strength has ascended to heaven.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei said Rafsanjani’s loss is overwhelming and very hard to bear. adding that the two were friends for 59 years. Jessica Stone, CGTN, Washington.


Former Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Ganjidoost on Rafsanjani death

CGTN’s Susan Roberts interviewed Mohammad Ganjidoost on the passing of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Ganjidoost is a senior researcher for the Islamic Republic of Iran and the former Iranian ambassador to North Korea.