Explained: How Iran avoided power vacuum after Raisi plane crash

Iranian cleric Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference at the Interior Ministry building in Tehran, Iran on April 14, 2017. [AFP]

The sudden demise of the eighth president of Iran, Seyed Ebrahim Raisi, in the hilly northwestern side of the country on Sunday, May 19 has left a funeral to conduct and a succession to manage.

The three-day funeral rights for Raisi, Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and their colleagues are underway and will culminate in their interment on Thursday, May 23.

Meanwhile, Iran is handling a succession plan that so far appears seamless, owing to the provisions of the country’s Constitution.

What the law says

According to the law, in the event of a vacancy in the office of the Iranian president, the vice president takes over as a caretaker president for a period not exceeding fifty days; before an election to choose the new president occurs.

In the fulfillment of this requirement, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as the highest authority has already appointed less-known Vice President Mohammad Mokhber to serve as an interim president.

“In accordance with Article 131 of the Constitution, Vice-President Mr. Mokhber will be the head of the Executive Branch and is obliged to cooperate with the heads of the Legislative and Judiciary Branches in facilitating the election of a new president within a maximum of 50 days,” announced Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Middle Eastern country heads of branches of power including the Legislature, Judiciary, and Executive sit and plan the fresh election.

According to state media, this team has already agreed to conduct an election on June 28.

Iran has also made the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ali Bagheri Kani, in charge of its diplomatic relations until after the elections when he may be retained or dropped.

The 88-member legislature which installs a new Supreme leader and oversees his activities has also received a new leader.

At 91, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani has today been elected chairman of the Assembly of Experts. He will serve for two years.

Raisi was widely considered a favourite to succeed the aging Khamenei as Supreme Leader. His death now complicates the succession.