Former Iranian President Bani-Sadr dies in Paris

Iran's first president after the 1979 Islamic revolution died on Saturday (October 9) at the age of 88.

According to his wife and children, he passed away in Paris following a long illness.

Abolhassan Bani-Sadr took office in February 1980 after winning an election the previous month with more than 75% of votes.

Within months of being elected, Bani-Sadr was locked in a power struggle with radical clerical factions.

He had tried to curb their remit by giving key jobs to liberal-minded laymen.

Under the new Islamic Republic's constitution, former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wielded the real power.

The power struggle reached a crucial point in March 1981, when Bani-Sadr ordered security forces to arrest religious hardliners trying to disrupt a speech he was giving at Tehran University.

This prompted calls for his dismissal and trial.

In June 1981, with Khomeini's consent, parliament impeached and dismissed Bani-Sadr.

He fled to Paris one month later, and spent the rest of his life there.

He formed a loosely-knit alliance to overthrow Khomeini in France. But it collapsed in May 1984 after a clash in ideas between the leadership.

Despite disappointment and his long exile, Bani-Sadr said in a 2019 interview that he did not regret having been part of the revolution.

He said Khomeini had betrayed the principles of the revolution after sweeping to power in 1979, adding this had left a "very bitter" taste among some of those who had returned with Khomeini to Tehran in triumph.

In announcing the death, his family said on his website that Bani-Sadr had "defended freedom in the face of new tyranny and oppression in the name of religion."

The former president is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

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