Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Vague Future for Experts Assembly

Meysam Salehian, Rooz Online:
Based on recent news reports, ayatollah Ali Meshkini, the head of Iran’s Majles-e Khobregan-e Rahbari (Experts Assembly on Leadership), is ill and has been in a coma for the last few days. Since this government organ is responsible for choosing a new leader or confirming an incumbent, with Meshkini’s uncertain future, the future of the country’s highest political institution is in the dark as well.

Members of Meshkini’s family and the secretariat of the Assembly have refrained from responding to questions from reporters concerning the cleric’s health, while unofficial news indicates that his health is deteriorating.

Meshkini resigned from his post as the Qom Friday prayer leader a few months ago and Khamenei, the current leader of the Islamic regime appointed Reza Ostadi who is a member of the influential Qom Seminary Teachers Association, to replace him. Even though Meshkini had been ill, he was taken to important Leadership meetings from his hospital bed, to publicly present a stable situation for the body and the public at large.

The likely withdrawal of Mehskini as head of the Assembly is politically important because there does not seem to be an acceptable replacement for him. Hashemi Rafsanjani is the number two man at the Assembly, but many of the members oppose his ascent to the chairmanship of the Assembly.

The body will hold one more meeting of the members of the Assembly before it beings its elections process. It has been reported that during the last meeting Khamenei, former reformist president Mohammad Khatami had cautioned the leader of undesirable political maneuverings by another influential yet regressive cleric, ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi who is said to have ambitions to head the Assembly. Khamenei is said to have dismissed Khatami’s concerns. READ MORE