Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has led tributes to former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has died at the age of 82 after suffering a heart attack.
Mr Rafsanjani, who served as president from 1989 to 1997, was one of the first and most famous members of the inner circle of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, who toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But later in life he became a counterpoint to hardline conservatives.
Current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted, “The spirit of the giant of the revolution and politics, the symbol of patience and resilience has soared to the skies,”.
Ayatollah Khamenei hailed Rafsanjani a “companion of struggle” despite their differences, saying this was a “difficult” loss.
Residents said a crowd gathered outside the hospital in northern Tehran where Rafsanjani was taken.
Rafsanjani’s death is set to have a seismic and unpredictable impact on the internal dynamics of the country. Rouhani will need political support for his reelection but without Rafsanjani and no other reformist benefactor of his stature, Rouhani will be forced to fight hardliners and principlists on his own.