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Key Iranian Clerical Body Chooses New Hardline Chairman

Newly elected chairman of the Iran's Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi sits in a biannual meeting of the assembly in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, March 10, 2015.

The council of clerics in charge of selecting and supervising Iran's supreme leader chose Tuesday to make a hardline conservative its new chairman.

The Assembly of Experts elected 83-year-old Mohammad Yazdi to a term that will last until early next year, when the entire assembly will be up for election along with another vote for chairman. He succeeds Ayatollah Mohammadreza Mahdavi Kani, who died in October.

Yazdi won 47 votes in the 86-member assembly, beating out former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's 24 votes.

The cleric is also a member of Iran's influential Guardian Council that approves candidates to run in elections and can veto laws passed by the parliament.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Assembly of Experts has had to choose one supreme leader, choosing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.