Sun, 05 Jul 2020

Iran's new hard-line-controlled parliament has elected former Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who served as air force commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as its speaker for one year.

Qalibaf, who's had three unsuccessful presidential bids, received the most votes from the capital Tehran in February's parliamentary elections, which had the lowest turnout in decades. His loyalty to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is believed to have boosted his path to becoming speaker.

State-controlled television said 230 lawmakers out of 264 voted for Qalibaf, a former police chief who was among those challenging President Hassan Rohani in the 2017 presidential elections.

Qalibaf, 58, a hard-liner who has presented himself as a moderate in the past, will replace Ali Larijani who held the influential post since 2008 and did not run in the February elections that resulted in the consolidation of the power of conservatives ahead of next year's presidential vote.

Ahead of the February vote, the powerful Guardians Council disqualified thousands of reformists and moderate candidates from running, leaving voters to choose mainly between hard-liners and conservatives loyal to Khamenei.

Qalibaf has faced corruption accusations over his mayoral tenure from 2005 to 2017.

The new parliament was inaugurated on May 27.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Farda, IRNA, ISNA, Reuters, and AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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