The Iranian Assembly of experts, composed of clerics who are empowered to appoint and dismiss their country’s ‘supreme leader’, have chosen the ultraconservative Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as their new chairman today
The surprise choice of Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as head of the Assembly of Experts took place at a highly sensitive time, as Iran and six world powers face a March 31 deadline to reach the outline of an agreement overTehran‘s disputed nuclear programme.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 75, underwent prostate surgery last year and rumours have recently resurfaced about his health, although he was shown on television last Sunday meeting a group of environmental activists.
“This was unexpected,” said Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, an Iranian journalist and political analyst based in Tehran. “I was genuinely surprised that Yazdi won.”
The result suggested that hardliners within the Assembly had closed ranks at a sensitive time when a new Supreme Leader could soon be chosen – a decision in which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the most powerful military force in the country, could also play a role.
“The main message of this election was that hardliners refuse to loosen the grip on power in key state entities, and when the day comes, chances of a hardliner successor to Ayatollah Khamenei continue to remain strong for now,” Hossein Rassam, a former political analyst at the British embassy in Tehran who is now a business consultant focused on Iran, told Reuters in an email.
Full article: Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi Iran’s next leader (World Bulletin)