TABRIZ: A mourner kisses the coffin of late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as a mourning procession passes through the city in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, on Tuesday.—Reuters
TABRIZ: A mourner kisses the coffin of late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi as a mourning procession passes through the city in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province, on Tuesday.—Reuters

TEHRAN: Tens of thousands of mourners marched on Tuesday from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz — where Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi’s helicopter had been headed when it crashed — before his body was flown to Qom on the way to Tehran, where huge banners hailing him as “the martyr of service” have appeared amid a period of national mourning.

Raisi and seven members of his entourage, including foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, died when their aircraft came down on a fog-shrouded mountainside in northern Iran on Sunday.

A ceremony for the crash victims was held in Tehran before supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei leads prayers at a farewell ceremony on Wednesday. Countries including Russia, Turkiye, and Afghanistan have announced they will send representatives to the funeral.

Tribute was paid to the late president by the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, as envoys from Russia, China, India and Pakistan were among those who stood for a minute’s silence at the summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

PM Shehbaz, ministers to leave for Iran today to attend Raisi’s funeral

Also a day of national mourning was observed across Pakistan, where the national flag flew at half-mast to pay respects to the late president and other dignitaries.

Prime Minister Shehhaz Sharif is leaving today (Wednesday) for Iran on an official visit to attend the funeral ceremony of Iranian president Raisi.

A source in the PM Office told Dawn that it would be a one-day visit and the PM would be accompanied by some federal ministers.

In the northwestern city of Tabriz, black-clad mourners waving Iranian flags and portraits of the late president beat their chests as they walked behind a lorry carrying the coffins.

The coffin will be transferred to Mashahd, in eastern Iran, for burial on Thursday.

“We, the members of the government, who had the honour to serve this beloved president, the hardworking president, pledge to our dear people and leader to follow the path of these martyrs,” Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in a speech.

Earlier, tens of thousands of people gathered in the Tehran’s Valiasr Square.

On Tuesday, the Assembly of Experts, a key body in charge of selecting or dismissing Iran’s supreme leader, held its first session since being elected in March, with the seat reserved for Raisi carrying his portrait.

Raisi, who was widely expected to succeed current supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had been a member of the body since 2006.

The supreme leader who wields ultimate authority in Iran declared five days of national mourning and assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber, as caretaker president until next month’s election for Raisi’s successor.

The election will be held on June 28.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri, who was Amir-Abdollahian’s deputy, has been named acting foreign minister.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2024

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