Iranian envoy assures Uganda on ties after Raisi death

President Museveni and Iranian ambassador to Uganda Majid Saffar pose for a photo at the embassy in Kampala May 22, 2024 where the Ugandan leader visited to pay tribute following the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. PHOTO/PPU

What you need to know:

  • President Raisi, 63, and seven others were confirmed dead on Monday following a helicopter crash. He will be buried today.

The Iranian Ambassador, Mr Majid Saffar, has assured the government of Uganda of the continued strong diplomatic ties they recently established despite the death of President Ebrahim Raisi.

Speaking to the media in Kampala yesterday, Ambassador Saffar said according to their constitution, a new government must be established after 50 days, and he expects the team to continue fostering the relationship.

“We as the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, have agreed with the Ugandan government on several partnerships, and I am sure we are going to follow what we agreed on with President Raisi,” he said.

Ambassador Saffar added that since establishing bilateral relations with Uganda, several Iranian diplomats have visited Uganda on various occasions.

“The agreements encompass various issues and I believe that despite the unfortunate demise of President Raisi, the collaboration will persist with the new leadership,” Ambassador Saffar stated. 

He lamented the loss of several prominent leaders of the country, including their president, shortly after signing crucial cooperative agreements with the Ugandan government.

Ambassador Saffar explained that the terrain along the Azerbaijan-Iran border is mountainous, and despite adverse weather conditions, President Raisi was determined to visit certain areas to contribute to the nation. 

“The team made the decision and accepted to travel by helicopter, which was not in good condition according to reports,” he said, adding that the helicopter got an accident and crashed due to probably poor weather conditions.

Raisi and seven other people on board the helicopter died in the crash on Sunday.

Iran has declared five days of mourning. 

Mr Abdollah Abbasi, the Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressed the satisfaction of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and the Iranian people with President Raisi and his government.

“In the past three years when he was the president of Iran, his hard work and tirelessness in serving the people was considered one of his distinguished and prominent points,” he said.

He added that President Raisi always introduced himself as the servant of the people and not the president.  

Mr Abbasi also recalled President Raisi’s warm relationship with President Museveni, emphasising their strong ties.

“His warm and good relationship with President Museveni is public and special,” he said.

During President Raisi’s visit to Uganda in July 2023, four cooperative agreements were signed to strengthen ties between the two nations. These agreements covered visa waivers, agricultural cooperation, the establishment of a joint permanent intergovernmental commission.

President Museveni with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi at State House Entebbe on July 12, 2023. Photo/Abubaker Lubowa.  

President Museveni expressed the importance of learning from Iran’s experiences in countering western hegemony. 

He cited Uganda’s oil and gas discoveries, noting that despite initial doubts about refinery construction, his visit to Iran convinced him otherwise, emphasising the need for Uganda to establish its refineries, as Iran has done.

Raisi’s bio

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, was a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

His election in 2021 consolidated the control of conservatives over every part of Iran. He succeeded Hassan Rouhani after a landslide victory in a poll.

He took power as Iran faced multiple challenges, including acute economic problems, and stalled talks on the revival of a nuclear deal with world powers.

However, his time in office was dominated by the anti-government protests in 2022, the current war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, exposing Iran’s shadow war with Israel. 

He had also faced calls from many Iranians and rights activists for a probe into his alleged role in the mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s.