Iran’s Assembly of Expert, a deliberative body of 86 senior Shia clerics that is charged with electing the Supreme Leader of Iran and theoretically removing and supervising his activities, will hold its semi-annual session on 8 and 9 March.
The Assembly’s current chairman, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the most influential founders of the Islamic Republic and its former president, has come under fierce attack by the senior right wing politicians and the supporters of President Ahmadinejad for his tacit support of, or lack of opposition to, the leaders of the country’s reform movement. The state TV last week went as far as broadcasting a demonstration by pro-government supporters in which they were chanting “Death to Rafsanjani.”
There are speculations that the extreme right will be nominating one of the two senior clerics, Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani or Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, to replace Rafsanjani during the March session. However it is thought that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei favors keeping Rafsanjani at his posts, the chairmanship of the Assembly as well as the Expediency Council, as a counterweight to the growing influence of Ahmadinejad and his backers.