Iran’s Assembly of Experts is set to hold an annual meeting to review major international and domestic issues including the current economic challenges facing the country in the wake of re-imposition of illegal sanctions by the United States.
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Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, chairman of the Assembly, will deliver his inaugural address at the beginning of the meeting, which is scheduled to be held from March 12 to 14.
The Assembly elected Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati to head the body in May 2016
In a message to its opening, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the new assembly has a duty to “carefully and comprehensively guard the Islamic and revolutionary identity of the ruling establishment and direct intertwined apparatuses of the establishment toward lofty and sublime goals.”
The Assembly has nearly 90 members, including President Hassan Rouhani, who is now on a landmark visit to neighboring Iraq.
The meeting will take place at a time when Iran's role in countering Takfiri terrorists in Syria and elsewhere is widely being recognized globally.
The Assembly of Experts elects and oversees the activities of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, and is in a position of authority to either appoint or dismiss the Leader.
Members are directly elected to office by the people for an eight-year term. The body holds biannual meetings to review major national issues and every other year to appoint a new chairman.
In 1989, the Assembly picked Ayatollah Khamenei to succeed the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini.
In March 1979, a national referendum was held with the question "Islamic Republic, yes or no." Some 98.2 percent of the voters said "yes." Following this victory, the Iranian Constitution of 1906 was declared invalid and a new constitution for an Islamic Republic was drafted and ratified by a referendum during the first week of December the same year.
The first elections for the Assembly of Experts were held in December 1982 and the Assembly convened in 1983.
The fourth term began in 2007 and was to last a regular eight years but due to a government plan to cut back on electoral spending and in what is seen as aggregating elections, the fourth Assembly has served a 10-year term as an exception.
In late February 2016, the government arranged a double election process to hold elections for the 10th Parliament and the 5th Assembly of Experts. On February 26 of that year, Iranians went to the polls to elect 88 jurisprudential experts out of more than 800 prospective candidates for the 5th Assembly of Experts. The elections took place simultaneously.
Qualifications criteria for the senior clerical body include Islamic scholarship, justice, piety, political discernment and social perspicacity, prudence, courage and adequate capability for the task itself.
The Iranian people have gone to the polls some 36 times since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.