Iran Starts Process of Looking for Next Supreme Leader

DUBAI (Reuters) – An Iranian committee is examining potential candidates to be the next supreme leader, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Sunday, breaking a taboo of talking publicly about succession in the Islamic Republic.

Even after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 75, had surgery for prostate cancer last year, public discussion over who would succeed him never gained momentum in official circles because of the risk of being seen to undermine Iran’s most powerful figure.

But with an election in February of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that appoints the supreme leader, such discussion is bound to come to the fore.

Moderate President Hassan Rouhani and his allies are hoping to cash in on the popularity they have gained by striking a nuclear deal with world powers that could see sanctions lifted to win the majority of seats in the assembly and a parliamentary election that will be held on the same day.

“The Assembly of Experts will act when a new leader needs to be appointed. They are preparing for that now and are examining the options,” Hashemi, a powerful ally of Rouhani, was quoted as saying by ILNA news agency on Sunday.

“They have appointed a group to list the qualified people that will be put to a vote [in the assembly] when an incident happens,” he added in rare comments acknowledging the process.

The assembly of 82 elected clerics is charged with electing, supervising and even disqualifying the supreme leader.

Full article: Iran Starts Process of Looking for Next Supreme Leader (Newsweek)

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