Profile: Mohammad Mokhber, who took charge as Iran's interim president after Raisi's tragic death

News Network
May 20, 2024

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Following the tragic death of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and his entourage in a helicopter crash in northwestern Iran, the first vice president has taken charge as the interim president.

Iranian Constitution states that the first vice president takes over temporarily in the event of the death or major illness of the incumbent president for a period of 50 days.

Mohammad Mokhber, who served as President Raeisi’s first deputy since 2021, has taken over as the acting president for 50 days, in line with the constitutional requirement.

Holding a PhD in international law, Mokhber was born in the city of Dezful in the southern province of Khuzestan in 1955. He rose through the ranks to assume important social and political roles.

Mokhber, a vastly experienced executive manager who was chosen by Raeisi as his first vice president following the historic presidential elections in 2021, has impressed all and sundry with his work.

Raeisi won the mandate with a landslide election win in 2021, outshining all his key competitors, some of whom withdrew their applications and supported his bid.

Due to Mokhber’s years of experience in top managerial roles, especially as the president of the Execution of Imam Khomeini's Order (EIKO), also known as Setad, he was an automatic choice as Raeisi’s executive deputy.

Mokhber served as the head of Setad for nearly 14 years between 2007 and 2021. During this long period, his passion for social welfare, hard work and commitment to the revolutionary cause was something that made him a popular figure.

Among his works in Setad included the establishment of the Barakat Foundation, the Ehsan Foundation, and the production of the first Iranian COVID-19 vaccine, known as CONIRAN BAREKAT.

Before Setad, he served as the chairman of the board at Sina Bank, as well as the governor of southern Iran’s Khuzestan province. In both roles, he excelled.

Due to his work with Setad, he was placed on a sanctions list by the European Union in July 2010 and was taken off the list two years later.

Since 2021, he has been tirelessly working to implement social welfare schemes of the Raeisi government, working closely with people like the president himself.

Mokhber is likely to be one of the candidates when the new elections are held after 50 days.

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News Network
June 4,2024

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New Delhi: The Congress is on course to win over 100 Lok Sabha seats - after winning just 44 in 2014 and 52 in the 2019 election. In 2009 the party - then heading the United Progressive Alliance - won 206 seats.

The Congress-led INDIA bloc - formed in June last year to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP - led National Democratic Alliance from claiming a third consecutive term in power.

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News Network
June 4,2024

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Bengaluru: The ruling Congress in Karnataka has improved its tally by winning nine seats while the BJP and JD(S) combine emerged victorious in 19 constituencies in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP won 17 seats and the JD(S) secured victory in two constituencies.

The BJP, on its own, won 17 seats, making it a happy camper as Karnataka voters continued their trend (since 2004) of giving the saffron party the highest number of Lok Sabha seats in the state. The JD(S) won two out of the three seats it contested.

Out of nine seats won by the Congress, five are in Kalyana Karnataka region. Interestingly, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, during Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s first term, the Congress won nine seats while the BJP won 17 and JD(S) two seats.

Congress, which stormed to power with a huge majority in the Assembly polls last year, was bullish on winning more than 10 seats, which it did last in 1999.

“We didn’t get the result we expected. We wanted 15-20 seats. Our calculations went wrong,” Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said. His deputy DK Shivakumar, who is also Karnataka Congress president, was more candid. “We expected more seats - 14 to 15 - because of the guarantees. We expected more votes for the work we’ve done. That didn’t happen,” he said.

Admittedly, the Congress’ guarantees, around which the party had designed its Lok Sabha poll campaign in Karnataka, failed to yield the desired electoral benefits.

Also, Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar faced setbacks as Congress lost Mysore (CM’s native) and Bangalore Rural (where BJP defeated Shivakumar's brother DK Suresh).

But Congress has something to cheer about. Besides winning nine seats, the Congress’ vote share in Karnataka is up from 31.88% to 45.34%.

The result came in handy for the BJP to go after the ruling Congress. “The Siddaramaiah-Shivakumar government was arrogant for having 136 MLAs. People have taught them a lesson. Neither their MLAs nor the guarantees helped Congress,” Leader of the Opposition R Ashoka said.

Faced with an aggressive Congress, the BJP got the help it needed from the JD(S). Going by the result, the BJP-JD(S) alliance worked well on the ground as both parties gave their votes to each other.

The JD(S), struggling for survival after its near-rout in the Assembly polls last year, will view the Lok Sabha result as the battery it needed to recharge. “The result is the people’s reply to those who arrogantly chided JD(S) for having only 19 MLAs,” JD(S) state president HD Kumaraswamy said.

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Agencies
June 15,2024

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Mount Arafat, June 15: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.

It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.

“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.

The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.

After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.

Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid Al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.

Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.

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