Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani lost his position today as the head of the powerful Assembly of Experts, a clerical body charged with choosing or dismissing Iran's supreme leader. Facing certain defeat, Rafsanjani decided not to run for reelection to "avoid division," as he later explained. The Assembly then elected Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani as its new chairman. He received 63 votes in the 86-member assembly as the sole candidate for the post.
Rafsanjani’s loss is the latest indication that the regime is sidelining anyone remotely associated with the 2009 Green Movement. Their leaders, Mousavi and Karrubi, are under house arrest. Former reformist president Khatami is pushed out and now Rafsanjani has lost the powerful chairmanship of the assembly, the Islamic Republic’s version of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals.
Hardline Member of Majlis Mahmoud Ahmadi Biqash said Rafsanjani paid a price for not condemning the opposition leaders Mousavi and Karrubi.
"Today, Assembly of Expert members showed that they are pioneers in confronting enemies and seditionists and obeying the orders of the supreme leader," Biqash said [IRNA, 8 March].