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Mohammad Ali Rajai

After a two-month deadlock between President Bani Sadr and the IRP-controlled Majlis elected in March and May 1980, over the selection of the prime minister, Bani Sadr was forced to accept the IRP candidate, Mohammad Ali Rajai. Rajai, a former street peddler and schoolteacher, was a Beheshti protg. The designation of cabinet ministers was delayed because Bani Sadr refused to confirm cabinet lists submitted by Rajai. In September 1980, Bani Sadr finally confirmed fourteen of a list of twenty-one ministers proposed by the prime minister. Some key cabinet posts, including the ministries of foreign affairs, labor, commerce, and finance, were filled only gradually over the next six months. The differences between president and prime minister over cabinet appointments remained unresolved until May 1981, when the Majlis passed a law allowing the prime minister to appoint caretakers to ministries still lacking a minister.

Rajai was granted increasing powers by the Majlis as tensions between the IRP and the administration of Bani Sadr intensified. On 31 June 1981 Bani Sadr was impeached by the Majlis. Rajai became Iran's second president, elected in July 1981. He served only a brief term before being assassinated in a bombing at the Prime Minister's office on 30 August 1981.

Rajai and his Prime Minister Ayatollah Mohammad Javad-Bahonar, along with the chief of the Tehran police, lost their lives when a bomb went off during a meeting at the office of the Prime Minister on 30 August 1981. The Majlis named another cleric, Mahdavi-Kani, as interim prime minister. In a new round of elections on 2 October 1981, Hojjatoleslam Ali Khamenehi was elected president. Division within the leadership became apparent, however, when the Majlis rejected Khamenehi's nominee, Ali Akbar Velayati, as Prime Minister. On 28 October, the Majlis elected Mir-Hosain Musavi, a protg of the late Mohammad Beheshti, as Prime Minister. Although no group claimed responsibility for the bombings that had killed Iran's political leadership, the government blamed the Mojahedin for both. The Mojahedin did, however, claim responsibility for a spate of other assassinations that followed the overthrow of Bani Sadr. Among those killed in the space of a few months were the Friday prayer leaders in Tabriz, Kerman, Shiraz, Yazd, and Bakhtaran, a provincial governor, the warden of Evin Prison, the chief ideologue of the IRP, and several revolutionary court judges, Majlis deputies, minor government officials, and members of revolutionary organizations.




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