Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Iran May 28, 2023. Image Credit: Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash raises the immediate question of who will succeed him in running the government. On Monday, Iranian media said that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had died after his helicopter crashed in a mountainous region of the country.

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What happens in Iran when a president dies in office

Below is a brief outline of what Iran's constitution says happens when a president is incapacitated or dies in office: If a president dies in office, article 131 of the Islamic Republic's constitution says that the first vice president takes over, with the confirmation of the supreme leader, who has the final say in all matters of state in Iran.

A council consisting of the first vice president, the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary must arrange an election for a new president within a maximum period of 50 days.

Raisi was elected president in 2021 and, under the usual timetable, a presidential election had been due to take place in 2025. Under constitutional rules, it can now be expected to take place by early July.


What happens now?

According to Iran's constitution, upon the president's death, the first vice president assumes temporary leadership. Together with the judiciary chief and the parliament speaker, they hold a new presidential election within 50 days. In this case, it appears certain that the temporary leader will be Mohammad Mokhber, a former officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and one-time head endowment that looks after the Islamic Republic's assets.

In an apparent effort to allay any public concern about the stability of the government, Khamenei spoke about Raisi's absence on Sunday evening "- even before his death was confirmed "- and said that people shouldn't expect any disruptions to how the country is run.

What is the difference between Supreme Leader and President?

The Supreme Leader is the ultimate ruler in Iran and is responsible for making all major decisions concerning the state. The Supreme Leader, a position established after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is also head of state and commander in chief. According to the law it has to be given to a high ranking theologian who must be at least at the rank of Ayatollah.

The president in Iran, meanwhile, is the head of the country's executive branch and is elected in a closely vetted election process every four years. The president controls the government and, depending on that person's political background and strength, can amass great influence over state policy and the economy.

What impact does Raisi's death have on Iran and the region?

Raisi's death could have consequences for Iran's relationship with the rest of the region. Iran backs a number of proxy groups, the most powerful of which are fighting Israel. The Revolutionary Guard Corps will look to make sure that Iran's enemies don't exploit a moment of upheaval.

Who is Mohammad Mokhber, the man set to become
Here are some key facts about Mohammad Mokhber, 68, Iran's first vice president who, based on the country's constitution, is expected to become interim president following the death of Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.

As interim president, Mokhber is part of a three-person council, along with the speaker of parliament and the head of the judiciary, that will organise a new presidential election within 50 days of the president's death.

Born on Sept. 1, 1955, Mokhber, like Raisi, is seen as close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has the last say in all matters of state. Mokhber became first vice president in 2021 when Raisi was elected president.

Mokhber was part of a team of Iranian officials who visited Moscow in October and agreed to supply surface-to-surface missiles and more drones to Russia's military, sources told Reuters at the time. The team also included two senior officials from Iran's Revolutionary Guards and an official from the Supreme National Security Council.

Mokhber had previously been head of Setad, an investment fund linked to the supreme leader.