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Tributes for ex-Iran President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

(UDHAYAM, BAGHDAD) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has led tributes to former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has died at the age of 82.

Ayatollah Khamenei hailed a “companion of struggle” despite their differences, saying this was a “difficult” loss.

President Hassan Rouhani praised Mr Rafsanjani as a great man of the Islamic revolution.

The government has announced three days of mourning, making Tuesday a public holiday for his funeral in Tehran.

Mr Rafsanjani, who served as president from 1989 to 1997, was pivotal in the 1979 revolution. But later in life he became a counterpoint to hardline conservatives.

“The different opinions and interpretations at time in this long period could never entirely break up the friendship between us,” said Ayatollah Khamenei.

Mr Rafsanjani died on Sunday in a hospital in Tehran after suffering a heart attack.

His body was taken to Jamaran prayer hall, the residence of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rohullah Khomeini, where relatives, politicians and religious figures gathered to pay their last respects, foreign media reports.

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