RAFSANJANI ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF ASSEMBLY OF EXPERTS

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 73, has been elected the new chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts.

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Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 73, has been elected the new chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts. The Assembly of Experts is an 86-seat body of clerics with the power to appoint, supervise and even dismiss the Islamic Republic’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rafsanjani, who is Chairman of the Expediency Council, was elected in the Assembly’s fourth term, with 41 votes, while his closest rival, Ahmad Jannati, received 34. The election marks something of a political comeback by Rafsanjani after he lost the 2005 presidential election to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The chair of the Assembly of Experts has been vacant since the death in July of Ayatullah Ali Meshkini, who headed the body for all 27 years of its existence. The voting was held during the second official gathering of the Assembly’s members, who were elected through nationwide elections on December 15, 2006.