Leaders of Iran

Friday, December 10, 2004

Khamenei aide (Larijani) steps down as head of state television

Region Articles: "Khamenei aide steps down as head of state television

Tehran: The conservative head of Iran's state television and radio broadcast monopoly stepped down yesterday at the end of a second five-year term, paving the way for a possible presidential bid next year.

Ali Larijani, a trusted adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was replaced as head of IRIB by his deputy Ezatollah Zarghami, the official Irna news agency said.

The IRIB chief's position carries great weight in the Islamic Republic and is one of several key posts appointed directly by Khamenei.

A fierce conservative and member of a powerful political family, Larijani has been touted by some political groups as a potential candidate for president when incumbent pro-reform President Moham-med Khatami's term expires in mid-2005.

"He is one of a number of names that have been thrown around, particularly from the hard right," said one political analyst, who declined to be named.

Conservatives have rolled back most of the political gains made by reformists, comfortably winning local council and parliamentary elections in 2003 and 2004 thanks to a combination of public apathy and heavy vetting of potential candidates.

Most analysts expect the conservative comeback to be completed in next year's presidential election with voters presented a narrow field of right-of-centre candidates from which to choose.

Other candidates touted for presidential bids include Hassan Rohani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary-general of the Supreme National Security Council, Khamenei's foreign affairs advisor and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati and former Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezaie.

At a ceremony yesterday, Khamenei thanked "my dear brother" Larijani and IRIB for standing up to Iran's enemies who are "trying to weaken national unity and strip officials of their courage through threats and intimidation.""


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