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Iran’s Raeisi picks vice president, chief of staff in first appointments

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi has made his first appointments since taking office earlier this month.

In decrees released on Sunday, Raeisi picked Mohammad Mokhber Dezfuli as vice president while appointing Gholamhossein Esmaili as the chief of staff in the Iranian presidency office.

Mokhber Dezfuli has served for 14 years as head of Iran’s SETAD, a powerful economic conglomerate which is mostly focused on charitable causes.

Under his watch, SETAD developed Iran’s flagship coronavirus vaccine Coviran Barekat. President Raeisi received a first dose of the vaccine on Sunday more than a month after it was rolled out as part of a nationwide inoculation campaign against the disease.

The position of First Vice President in Iran has a major influence on the country’s economic and day-to-day government issues. Mokhber becomes the seventh man serving in the role which was created following a revision in the Iranian Constitution in 1989.

New chief of staff Esmaili was spokesman of the Iranian judiciary under Raeisi since 2019. He has also served as Iran’s prisons chief between 2009 and 2014.

Raeisi has yet to announce a list of cabinet ministers for approval in the Iranian parliament. Sunday reports in the local media suggested he was finalizing nominees to economic posts in discussions with Mokhber.

The new Iranian president took office earlier this week after being endorsed by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei before he was sworn in in the parliament.  

Raeisi won more than 18 million votes in the presidential election in June on pledges of fixing economic hardships caused by the US sanctions and the pandemic.

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