London- Iran’s Spiritual leader Ali Khamenei appointed on Monday Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as the new chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council, a move that means the leader has once again tightened his grip on Iranian decision-making.
Khamenei’s decision brought to an end seven months of anticipation that followed the death of leader Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who headed the council for 27 years.
The Expediency Council serves as an advisory body for the Supreme Leader and mediates on legislative differences between the Parliament and the oversight Guardian Council.
The Council’s chairman is directly appointed by the country’s supreme leader every five years.
On Monday, Khamenei also appointed the new lineup of the 44-member Expediency Council, including 38 political figures. The list included for the first time conservative presidential candidates, Ebrahim Raisi and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf in addition to Mohammad Sadr, an adviser to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri.
In a surprising move, the Supreme Leader renewed the membership of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad contrary to estimates that he would be placed outside the council, particularly after an Iranian election committee had rejected the former president from running in last May’s presidential elections.
Khamenei also reinstated Mohsen Rezaei as the secretary of the Expediency Council, whose last term has ended in March when it was headed by acting chairman Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani.
On Monday, the new lineup was welcomed by conservatives, but saw some reservations in the ranks of parties that backed the presidency of President Hassan Rouhani, especially the reformists.
In his decree issued Monday, Khamenei urged the new chairman to help reform the general policies of the system.
He also called for organizing the procedure for monitoring the implementation of policies and creating a mechanism for evaluating their effectiveness, a statement issued by his office said.