Al-Manar TV reports that the former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was elected head of Iran’s Assembly of Experts on Tuesday. Rafsanjani becomes the second head of the Assembly of Experts – the body which supervises the work of the supreme leader – after the death of previous chairman Ayatollah Ali Meshkini who led the body for its 27 years of existence. The ex-president polled 41 votes from fellow members of the Assembly in the closed-door election while cleric Ahmad Jannati won 34 votes, the public relations department of the Assembly said. A total of 76 votes were cast, with one abstention, it added.

“Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been elected to the chairmanship of the fourth Assembly of Experts,” the official IRNA news agency confirmed.

The main job of the Assembly is to supervise and select the supreme leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 67. If the performance of the supreme leader is deemed inadequate, it even has the power to oust him.

The vote marks another step in the political comeback of Rafsanjani, who served as president from 1989-1997, after his thrashing by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2005 election. Rafsanjani had already in 2006 polled the highest number of votes in the universal suffrage elections held every eight years to choose the 86 members of the Assembly.

In a speech marking the opening of the Assembly before his election was confirmed, Rafsanjani urged Iran to preserve national unity and beware of being provoked in the face of the “dangers” posed by arch enemy the United States.

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