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Iran's Parliament Reelects Speaker While Outspoken Vice-Speaker Is Voted Out

Ali Larijani, Iran's Majles Speaker and his former deputy Ali Motahari. FILE PHOTO
Ali Larijani, Iran's Majles Speaker and his former deputy Ali Motahari. FILE PHOTO

Ali Larijani has been reinstated as the speaker of the Iranian Parliament (Majles) for the 12th consecutive year as the longest serving head of Iranian Parliament.

The annual election for the posts on the Majles presidium was held on Sunday May 26, with the only surprise in the result being the replacement of outspoken conservative vice-speaker Ali Motahari, with another conservative figure Abdolreza Mesri.

Mesri was the Minister of Welfare and Social Security under ultraconservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinjad in his first term of office as Iran's president. He is now a member of the conservative faction of the Majles but no he longer supports Ahmadinejad.

From among the three main contestants for the post of Speaker, Ali Larijani won 155 votes from 274 MPs present. The losers were reformist Mohamad Reza Aref with 105 and ultraconservative Mohammad Javad Abtahi with only 9 votes. The defeat for Aref was meaningful as he had won 123 votes last year.

The other members of the presidium were reelected. Meanwhile, like the previous rounds, no woman will be on the presidium.

Ali Larijani, 62, has been holding the post of the speaker of the Majles since 2008.

Motahari's defeat could be attributed to his harsh criticism of the performance of both reformists and conservatives in the Iranian government. His criticism of conservatives, and even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the continued house arrest of Green Movement leaders have at times annoyed politicians close to Khamenei.

Motahari has also at times argued for more political freedom of speech while remaining true to his social conservatism.

International human rights watchdogs have charged that extensive vetting and the disqualification of thousands of candidates has turned the Iranian parliament into a rather non-elected institution.

The other members of the Majles presidium include vice speaker Massoud Pezeshkian as well as Behrouz Nemati, Mohammad Ashouri, Assadollah Abbasi, Mohammad Ali Vakili, Ali Asghar Yousef Nejad, Alireza Rahimi, Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani and Akbar Ranjbarzadeh.