Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose sudden death, shocked the Iranian nation, was a unique and irreplaceable politician.
The late cleric devoted his life to preserve the aspirations of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. He spared no efforts to promote unity among different political groups and promote Iranian men and women’s participation in different arenas.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani was a shrewd politician who always did his best to moderate the views of extremists.
He threw his weight behind incumbent President Hassan Rouhani in the 2013 presidential election, which played a key role in Rouhani's victory in the election.
Some have voiced concern that the loss of the cleric will adversely affect the Rouhani government in the upcoming presidential election due to be held in May 2017. But, as a matter of fact, the huge presence of people from all walks of life in Rafsanjani's funeral conveyed a message that he will be etched in the memory of Iranians and his legacy will remain highly respected.
Therefore, the social support that has been there for Rafsanjani is today fully behind Rouhani.
Rafsanjani’s death is an unfortunate event but void of negative consequences for the incumbent president.
Presently, a political consensus is emerging which will further consolidate the social support for Rouhani who mirrors Rafsanjani's political line.
The incumbent president took office while the country was suffering from extreme policies of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-13).
The hardliners have had no scruples about tarnishing Rouhani’s image but he has exercised patience and restraint to overcome obstacles in a bid to restore national unity and prepare the grounds for people’s welfare through improving ties with other nations and boosting the economy at home.
Such an approach reminds us of Rafsanjani's statement shortly after Rouhani's win in the 2013 election: "Now I can die with peace of mind".
Rafsanjani was laid to rest while he was confident that the country would be run by a president who seeks to stick to his aspirations. He was called the Hero of Reconstruction, because of his keen interest in reconstruction of the country through moderation, interaction and détente.
The Ayatollah’s demise will also be greatly felt in international politics because he was highly adept at rapprochement with other countries.
To many, Rafsanjani was the key mentor of Rouhani and that the incumbent president inherited his moderate foreign polices from Rafsanjani.
The nuclear deal, for example, and the resumption of ties with some Western nations are in line with such policies.
Ayatollah Rafsanjani passed away, but his legacies of moderation, pragmatism, interaction with other nations, economic development, freedom, women and men’s political and social participation, respect for people’s rights, etc. will be followed up.