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BBC News Front page | In Depth | World | Middle East | Iran's changing face
Iran: The stuggle for changeIran: The struggle for change

Who holds the power
Iran: Who holds the power
Supreme Leader

The role of Supreme Leader was established by Ayatollah Khomeini, and placed him at the top of Iranís political power structure. The Supreme Leader - currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - appoints the head of the judiciary, the clergy members on the powerful Council of Guardians, the commanders of all the armed forces, Friday prayer leaders and the head of radio and TV. He also confirms the president's election. The leader is chosen by the clerics who make up the Assembly of Experts.

There has been tension between the office of the leader and the office of the president - a reflection of the deeper tensions between religious rule and the democratic aspirations of the constituency that elected President Mohammad Khatami.

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