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Page last updated at 08:40 GMT, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 09:40 UK

Iranian MPs holds first session

Iranian majlis holds opening session
A large majority of MPs in the majlis are from the conservative movement

Iran's new conservative-dominated parliament is convening for the first time after elections in April.

One of its first duties is to elect the house speaker, a powerful position which analysts say rivals the presidency in several areas.

Former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani is tipped to take the role. He has wide support among the right-wing majority.

He resigned his nuclear portfolio in 2007 citing policy differences with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Although Mr Larijani is frontrunner, a number of other MPs have expressed an interest in leading the majlis, as Iran's parliament is called.

The right wing holds about 70% of the seats in the 290-member majlis. The remaining seats are split evenly between reformists and the independents.

Mr Ahmadinejad opened Tuesday's first session with an appeal for unity with his government.

"We should be careful not to fall into quarrels and conflicts that evil hands, corrupt powers and some ignorant people are stirring up," he added.

Criticism

Analysts say Mr Larijani's leadership might not bring major changes to relations between the majlis and the presidency, but any disputes might be played out more publicly.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Mr Ahmadinejad's policies have been blamed for high inflation
Outgoing speaker Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel worked closely with Mr Ahmadinejad but differences occasionally surfaced.

Mr Adel and Mr Larijani have shared positions over major political issues in the past few years, and are staunch advocates of the right-wing platform.

Mr Ahmadinejad is expected to run for a second term in 2009, but Mr Larijani is unlikely to repeat his unsuccessful 2005 presidential bid if he is elected speaker, analysts say.

MPs on both sides have blamed Mr Ahmadinejad's economic policies for raising inflation to nearly 25%.

He has allocated large sums of cash into the economy to fund local infrastructure projects, but he blames the previous administration for the inflation.





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