Former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani/Photo: AFP

Local media in Iran say the country’s ex-President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has died at the age of 82.

Rafsanjani, a dominant figure in Iran’s politics since the 1980s, was reported to have suffered a heart attack.

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He served as president from 1989 to 1997 but lost to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he ran again in 2005, the BBC reports.

His final role was head of the Expediency Council, which tries to resolve disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council, but his power had now waned.

It was the 12-member council, a dominant force in Iran that interprets the constitution, that had disqualified Rafsanjani after he entered the race for the 2013 presidential election as a reformist candidate.

Rafsanjani denounced the move as “ignorant”, saying: “I don’t think the country could have been run worse.”

He then gave his support to the victorious candidate, Hassan Rouhani, who ran on the slogan “moderation and prudence” and attracted the suspicion of hardliners.

The two men were said to have had a warm relationship and Rouhani was seen at Tehran’s Shohada Hospital shortly before the death was announced. A crowd reportedly gathered at the hospital after the announcement.