2021-10-09 13:21:04 Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Banisadr, dies in Paris at 88 | News

Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Banisadr, dies in Paris at 88 | News

Banisadr became Iran’s first president in the months following the 1979 revolution, but he was later impeached and fled the country.

Tehran, Iran (AFP) – Abolhassan Banisadr, Iran’s first president after the 1979 revolution, died in Paris, where he had lived for decades after fleeing his country.

According to a statement on his website and reports in Iranian media on Saturday, the 88-year-old died in the French capital’s Salpêtrière hospital “after a long battle with illness.”

Banisadr was born in the western Iranian province of Hamedan in 1933. His father was a well-known religious leader and a close friend of Ruhollah Khomeini, who successfully led the Islamic revolution against Iran’s last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Banisadr, who completed his studies in Europe, was an outspoken opponent of the shah’s dynastic rule. He became a confidante and close ally of Khomeini, whom he hosted in Paris prior to his election as Iran’s first supreme leader.

President for the first time

Months after the revolution, Banisadr became Iran’s first elected president, winning a landslide of public support to govern for four years. The supreme leader also appointed him as acting commander-in-chief.

Among the black robes and turbans worn by the other religious leaders of the revolution, Banisadr stood out with his moustache and Western-style suits. They did, however, share a belief in a Shia Islamic state to replace the monarchy.

Banisadr photographed in Versailles, near Paris, in 2019 [File: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters]

However, two major events beyond his control hampered Banisadr’s ability to consolidate his position: the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran and the subsequent hostage crisis, and the invasion of Iran by neighboring Iraq led by Saddam Hussein with support from foreign governments to overthrow the country’s fledgling clerical establishment.

Against this chaotic backdrop, Banisadr quickly clashed with establishment factions over a variety of issues, including cabinet appointments and governance vision.

Attempting to flee to France

Because of the escalating conflict, his presidency lasted only a little more than a year, as the newly formed Islamic parliament impeached him in June 1981, with Khomeini’s support. He was smuggled out of the country in an airplane weeks after his impeachment, after living in hiding for some time.

To oppose the establishment, he formed an alliance with Masoud Rajavi, the then-leader of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK). They sought refuge in France, where they established the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Banisadr soon fell out with Rajavi, accusing him of espousing ideologies that favored violence and dictatorship. Furthermore, he was opposed to the MEK setting up camp in Iraq with Hussein’s support and mounting an armed assault on Iranian soil, which was ultimately defeated.

Banisadr lived in France under police protection for the next several decades until his death. He remained an outspoken critic of Iran’s leaders, publishing a magazine and numerous books.

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Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Banisadr, dies in Paris at 88 | News