Banisadr became Iran’s first president months after the 1979 revolution, but was later indicted and fled the country.
Tehran, Iran – Abolhassan Banisadr, who became the first president of Iran after the country’s revolution in 1979, died in Paris, where he lived for decades after fleeing his country.
A statement on his website and Iranian media reports on Saturday said the 88-year-old died “after a long battle with the disease” at the Salpêtrière hospital in the French capital.
Banisadr was born in 1933 in Hamedan province in western Iran. His father was a renowned religious leader and friend of Ruhollah Khomeini, who successfully led the Islamic revolution against Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.
Banisadr, who completed his studies in Europe, was an activist against the dynastic rule of the shah. He became a confidant and close ally of Khomeini, whom he received when the latter was in Paris before becoming the first supreme leader of Iran.
First elected president
Months after the revolution, Banisadr became the first elected president in Iran’s history, garnering a large majority of the public vote to rule for four years. He was also appointed acting commander-in-chief by the supreme leader.
Banisadr stood out with his mustache and western-style robes among the black robes and turbans favored by the other religious leaders of the revolution. But they shared a common faith in a Shiite Islamic state to replace the monarchy.
However, two major events beyond its control severely affected Banisadr’s ability to cement its position: the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran and the hostage crisis that followed, and the invasion of Iran by neighboring Iraq. led by Saddam Hussein with the support of foreign governments. to overthrow the incipient clerical establishment of the country.
Against this chaotic backdrop, Banisadr soon clashed with factions within the establishment over a number of issues, including cabinet appointments and vision for governance.
Fleeing to France
The escalation of the fighting eventually meant that his presidency lasted only a little over a year when the newly formed Islamic parliament impeached him in June 1981 with the backing of Khomeini. After living in hiding for some time, he was smuggled out of the country by plane, weeks after his impeachment.
He had formed an alliance with Masoud Rajavi, the then leader of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), to oppose the establishment. They sought refuge in France and founded the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
However, Banisadr soon fell out with Rajavi, accusing him of embracing ideologies that showed tendencies to violence and dictatorship. Furthermore, he objected to the fact that the MEK camped in Iraq with the support of Hussein and mounted an armed assault on Iranian soil, which was ultimately defeated.
Banisadr spent the next decades until his death living in France under police protection. He stood against the leaders of Iran and published a magazine and numerous books.