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Aug 14, 5:21 AM EDT

Iran's leader names conservative cleric to arbitration body

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader has appointed a conservative cleric to head a council that mediates disputes between government bodies, Iranian state TV reported on Monday.

The TV said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as the new chief of the arbitration body - known as the Expediency Council - for the next five years.

Shahroudi replaces the influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who died in January after heading the council for more than 27 years. Since February, ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani had acted as a temporary chief of the council.

Shahroudi served as the chief of the Iranian Judiciary for 10 years, from 1999 to 2009.

Khamenei also added six new members to the council, including the armed forces' chief-of-staff, Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri - a reflection of Iran's deep involvement in the Iraq and Syria wars.

Khamenei also appointed hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi and outgoing Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf to the council - both challenged President Hassan Rouhani in the presidential election earlier this year.

The council was created in 1988; its main responsibility is to resolve differences between the country's parliament and the Guardian Council, Iran's constitutional watchdog.

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