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Iran's supreme leader leads prayers at president's funeral

Iran's supreme leader led prayers in Tehran on Wednesday at the funeral of President Ebrahim Raisi, as the clerical establishment rushes to organize an early election that could further erode its legitimacy amid growing popular dissatisfaction.

The June 28 vote to replace Raisi, who was killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday (19), will need to galvanize a population that has shown little interest in the 2021 election, which propelled the hard-line cleric to the presidency, a role that oversees the government in everyday life.

Raisi died at a time of worsening tensions between the clerical leadership and society, worsened by the increase in political and social controls and the worsening of the economy.

An increasing number of voters have avoided recent elections, a worrying sign for the leadership, which sees turnout as a test of credibility for the 45-year-old Islamic Republic.

“The establishment has no options to guarantee a high turnout in such a short period,” said a former Iranian official, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

“People are extremely dissatisfied with the state of the economy, many others are angry about social restrictions, and the lack of voting options could result in low turnout.”

State TV showed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei leading prayers as tens of thousands of mourners filled the streets at the funeral in Tehran, which will be moved to the cleric's hometown of Mashhad in the east of the country for the burial on Thursday (23).

Raisi's coffin, as well as those of Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials who died alongside the president in Sunday's accident near the border with Azerbaijan, were passed over the heads of weeping mourners.

A Tehran resident said many people received a text message on their phones calling on them to “attend the service martyr’s funeral.”

Iran proclaimed five days of mourning for Raisi, who adopted the hard-line policies of his mentor Khamenei, aiming to consolidate clerical power, crack down on opponents and take a hard line on foreign policy issues such as negotiations with Washington over the Iranian nuclear program.

More than 40 high-ranking foreign delegations at the levels of head of state, foreign ministers and heads of parliament will participate in the ceremony in Tehran this Wednesday, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Source: CNN Brasil

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