Outgoing Experts Assembly Holds Last Meeting

Outgoing Experts Assembly Holds Last MeetingOutgoing Experts Assembly Holds Last Meeting

The outgoing Assembly of Experts, a clerical body empowered to appoint and dismiss the Leader of the Islamic Revolution and monitor his performance, convened its last two-day meeting on Tuesday before the newly-elected members take over in about three months.

Candidates enlisted by reformists and moderates, who pitted themselves against conservatives, made stunning gains in the Feb. 26 twin votes for the 88-member assembly and the 290-seat parliament. The incumbent chairman of the assembly, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, along with another conservative sitting member Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, failed to win reelection, leaving Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, as the only rival figure among the other 15 moderate candidates elected to represent Tehran for the next eight-year term.

Ayatollah Jannati also chairs the Guardians Council, an influential body of six clerics and six jurists that vets candidates and laws.

“Tomorrow, the incumbent assembly members are scheduled to visit the mausoleum of the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and meet the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei,” a member of the body’s presiding board, Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

The first session of the incoming assembly is scheduled for June 3.

The conservative-dominated Guardians Council faced strong criticism, particularly from leaders of rival factions, after disqualifying an overwhelming proportion of those initially registered to stand in the polls last month, among them many heavyweight reformist and moderate figures.

Among over 12,000 registered applicants for parliamentary vote and 800 for the assembly poll vetted by the council, only 6,233 and 161, respectively, were allowed to run.

  GC Under Pressure

Ayatollah Jannati addressed the assembly meeting on Tuesday, saying, “Some tried to pose a challenge to the Guardians Council during the elections.”

Hopefuls for the Assembly of Experts were required to take a test on religious precepts.

There is far more to the council’s job than merely checking for a passing test score, Jannati said, adding that assessing other qualifications of the candidates is a demanding task and the council was under intense pressure during the election days. Ayatollah Yazdi also delivered a speech, calling on all failed candidates to show decency and accept the results of the elections.

He also cautioned the government of President Hassan Rouhani against placing blind faith in the Islamic Republic’s western foes.

There has been strong resistance from conservatives to Rouhani’s push to reopen the national economy to the outside world, particularly after the Jan. 16 implementation of last year’s historic nuclear deal with major powers, which ended years of international sanctions in return for temporary curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.