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Iran stares at an unprecedented crisis as it seeks to replace Raisi

man holds a portrait of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi during a candlelight vigil outside the Embassy of Iran in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, May 20, 2024   -  
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Dita Alangkara/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

Iran's attack on Israel

The death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash will be a “big loss” to the country, especially as it comes amid a “domestic legitimacy crisis” and Tehran's "contested relationship" with Israel, an analyst said Monday.

Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and several other officials were found dead on Monday, hours after their helicopter crashed in a foggy, mountainous region of the country’s northwest, state media reported.

Sanam Vakil, the director of the North Africa and Middle East Programme at the London-based think-tank Director, Chatham House said the country's political establishment will now "put on a brave face, show functionality as usual, present this as business as normal of a system and life will go on".

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced Monday that Iran’s first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, would serve as the country’s acting president until elections are held.

Under the Iranian constitution, Iran’s vice first president takes over if the president dies, with Khamenei’s assent, and a new presidential election would be called within 50 days.

Vakil said the establishment will favour a candidate who can "maintain ideological legitimacy, and protect the system."

She said there was a possibility of "protests or instability in Iran."

Mass protests in the country have raged for years.

The most recent involved the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who had been earlier detained over allegedly not wearing a hijab, or headscarf.

Raisi won Iran’s 2021 presidential election, a vote that saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

The crash comes as the Middle East remains unsettled by the Israel-Hamas war, during which Raisi launched an unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel just last month.