Iran’s Lawmakers Elect Former Guards Commander as Speaker – TV

DUBAI, May 28 (Reuters) Iranian lawmakers elected former Revolutionary Guards air force commander Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf on Thursday as the speaker of the hardliner-dominated parliament for one year, state television reported.

State TV said 230 lawmakers, out of 264, voted for Qalibaf, whose record as a veteran of Iran‘s eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s and as a national police chief has endeared him to Iran‘s top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and boosted his chances of becoming speaker.

A former Tehran mayor, Qalibaf ran unsuccessfully in two presidential races and was forced to drop out of a third to avoid splitting the hardline vote. He revived his political ambitions by standing for parliament.

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Separately, Khamenei appointed former parliament speaker Ali Larijani as his adviser and member of the Expediency Council, a body intended to resolve disputes between parliament and the powerful Guardian Council, state TV also reported on Wednesday.

The Guardian Council, a hardline watchdog body, must approve all candidates for elections in Iran, including for parliament.

The Council disqualified thousands of moderate and leading conservative candidates from taking part in Iran‘s Feb. 21 parliamentary election, leaving voters to choose mainly between hardline and low-key conservative candidates loyal to Khamenei.

Like hardliners, conservatives back the ruling theocracy, but unlike them support more engagement with the outside world.

Iran‘s 290-seat parliament has no major influence on foreign affairs or Iran‘s nuclear policy, which are determined by Khamenei. But it might bolster hardliners in the 2021 election for president and toughen Tehran’s foreign policy.

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Gareth Jones)