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TEHRAN: Ebrahim Raisi was Tuesday inaugurated as president of Iran, a country whose hopes of shaking off a dire economic crisis hinge on reviving a nuclear deal with world powers.

“Following the people’s choice, I task the wise, indefatigable, experienced and popular Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Raisi as president of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote in a decree read out by his chief of staff.

Raisi replaces moderate president Hassan Rouhani, whose landmark achievement was the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers.

From the outset, Raisi will have to tackle negotiations aimed at reviving the nuclear deal from which the US unilaterally withdrew imposing sweeping sanctions.

The 60-year-old also faces warnings to Iran from the United States, Britain and Israel over a deadly tanker attack last week for which Tehran denies responsibility.

Raisi, in his inauguration speech, said the new government would seek to lift “oppressive” US sanctions, but would “not tie the nation’s standard of living to the will of foreigners”.

“We believe the people’s economic position is unfavourable both because of the hostility of our enemies and because of the shortcomings and problems inside the country,” he said.

In his response, Khamenei acknowledged Iran suffered from “many shortcomings and problems”, but quickly added: “The country’s capabilities are even more numerous.

“Fixing economic problems takes time and cannot be done overnight,” he said.

Raisi won a presidential election in June in which more than half the electorate stayed away after many heavyweights were barred from standing.

A former judiciary chief, he has been criticised by the West for his human rights record.

Tuesday’s ceremony marked Raisi’s formal accession to office. He will next be sworn in before parliament on Thursday when he is to submit his proposed government line-up.

Raisi’s presidency will consolidate power in the hands of conservatives following their 2020 parliamentary election victory, marked by the disqualification of thousands of reformist or moderate candidates.

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