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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Iran to get non-cleric as speaker
By Sadeq Saba
BBC regional analyst

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader
The conservatives, led by Ayatollah Khamenei, are back in control
The conservatives who dominate Iran's parliament have nominated an academic to be the its first non-clerical speaker since the Islamic revolution.

The politician, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, is also an in-law of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Conservatives won Iran's controversial general elections in February after thousands of reformist candidates were disqualified from standing.

The new parliament is due to be officially sworn in on Thursday.

Influential

Since the Iranian revolution 25 years ago all speakers of parliament have been clerics.

This is an influential position in Iran's power structure and the ruling clergy never trusted anybody outside their own ranks to assume it.

But times are changing and now there is a new generation of conservatives who are as dedicated to the Islamic system of government as the official custodians of religion themselves.

The selection of a non-cleric as head of the legislature is also an attempt to give a new image to the Islamic republic, where people often complain that clerics are keeping all important positions of power for themselves.

Moderate image

Mr Haddad-Adel was nominated by a majority of the incoming conservative MPs in an informal session.

He is a professor of literature and philosophy at Tehran University and leader of the minority conservative faction in the outgoing reformist-dominated parliament.

His daughter is married to Ayatollah Khamenei's son.

Mr Haddad-Adel has tried to give the conservatives a moderate image since their controversial victory in April.

He famously said that the main objective of the conservatives now was to turn Iran into an "Islamic Japan".





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