Yazdi Elected Assembly of Experts Chairman

On March 10, hardliner Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi (left) was elected chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Iran’s only constitutional body with the authority to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader. Yazdi won 47 out of 73 votes, defeating the more centrist Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Former President Rafsanjani, who was chairman from 2007 to 2011, received 24 votes.               

Yazdi, age 83, served as deputy speaker of parliament after the 1979 revolution and headed the judiciary for a decade until 1999.
The vote was prompted by the October 2014 death of the previous chairman, Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani. Yazdi will hold the position until February 2016, when direct elections for the body’s 86 seats will coincide with parliamentary polls. Elections for the clerical body are held every eight years.
The issue of the chairmanship has become a more pressing issue given speculation over the health of 75-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Previously, the body was largely seen as a rubber stamp organization because it has never seriously questioned the actions of late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini or current Supreme Leader Khamenei.
The Iranian constitution defines the assembly’s tasks to be:
  • Select the supreme leader (Article 107 and 111).
  • Dismiss him if he is unable to perform his constitutional duties or it becomes known that he did not possess some of the initial qualifications such as “social and political wisdom, prudence, courage, administrative facilities and adequate capability for leadership (Article 111).”
  • Supervise the supreme leader’s capabilities to determine whether he is able to perform his duties. The assembly also has a committee to oversee “the continuation of qualifications for the leader specified in the constitution.”
Click here for more information on the Assembly of Experts.
Photo credits: Assembly of Experts website