Iran Swears In New President Hassan Rouhani

Iran swore in its new president, Hassan Rouhani, on Saturday. While the ceremony to hand over power happened then, Rouhani’s public inauguration won’t be until Sunday.

The 64-year-old is a former nuclear negotiator and has been praised as a moderate by several. He won the presidential poll in June by promising to put an end to the country’s isolation from the rest of the world.

Along with an endorsement from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani was also supported by Iran’s reform movement, reports the BBC.

The movement has called on the new Iranian president to release political prisoners and seek to have international sanctions lifted. But despite him taking over as president of Iran, Hasan Rouhani doesn’t have the last word in the Islamic nation.

Rather, it is the Supreme Leader, rather than the president, who has the final say in decisions. In recent speeches since being elected president, Rouhani has taken a more moderate tone than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

While Ahmadinejad often lashed out at Western nations, Rouhani instead pledged to walk a more transparent path and to boost mutual trust with other countries, notes The Guardian.

US President Barack Obama has also spoken optimistically about Rouhani saying that he is open to “a whole range in measures,” as long as Iran shows “the international community that you’re abiding by international treaties and obligations.” Also included in the bargain is the promise that Iran is not creating a nuclear weapon.

The comments on both sides were welcomed, but still far away from any kind of negotiations that could end tough sanctions the US and other Western nations have put on Iran. Their current relationship has kept the two nations from negotiating ways of stabilizing the Middle East, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is unclear if the United States and Iran’s relations will improve with the new Iranian president. In his first press conference as president-elect, Hassan Rouhani commented that conditions for talks between the two nations would mean that the US will never interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs, it would acknowledge Iran’s undeniable rights, and that the US would set aside what Rouhani called “unilateral and bullying policies.”

Do you think that Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani will be a welcome change for the country?