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Death of Prominent Cleric Prompts Search for New Chairman of Powerful Assembly

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Ayatollah Ali Akbar Meshkini, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, died yesterday after complications from an illness. As many outside Iran seek to understand its complex power structure, it is worth noting that Meshkini was among the most pivotal figures of the Iranian government. The Assembly of Experts is ultimately responsible for appointing the supreme leader, Iran’s most powerful position, which is currently held by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Meshkini’s death has propelled a search for a successor, who could potentially make a considerable impression on Iran’s future. Juan Cole posted the following translated article, which provides additional context regarding the Assembly of Experts and background into Meshkini’s life.

This assembly chooses the supreme leader among the most prominent clergy of the religious seminary and supervises his function. According to article 110 of the Constitution, the leader of the Islamic republic has very important responsibilities and power. The power of commanding the armed forces and choosing its leaders, supervision of the three powers, selecting the chief of the IRIB (voice and vision of the Islamic republic of Iran), determining the overall policies of the system, declaring war and peace, and selecting the chiefs of several governmental institutions are some of the main duties and power of the leader. It goes without saying that the institution which is responsible for selecting and supervising the leader is one the main pillars of the system. Therefore it has an especial place and its chairman has a unique position. Up to now the chair for all three periods of the assembly was Ayatollah Meshkini.

This assembly, only a few hours after the death of the grand leader of the revolution in 1989 selected his successor and published a statement saying that the assembly had chosen Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the new leader.

Update (8-10-07): For an update on replacing Meshkini, read Iran’s high-stakes political game.

Irancove @ August 1, 2007

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