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Mahdavi Kani's death leaves room for hard-liners to expand

The passing of Assembly of Experts chair Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani may open the door for hard-liners to take over Iran's conservative faction.
EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah Yazdi listens to the opening speech during the Assembly of Experts' biannual meeting in Tehran September 14, 2010.  REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tags: POLITICS RELIGION) - RTR2IB57

The passing of Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani has not only created a vacuum in the powerful institutions he oversaw, but also leaves the traditional conservatives within the Islamic Republic without a prominent head and at the mercy of more extreme leaders.

Mahdavi Kani was the most senior and respected leader within the traditional conservatives. He chaired the Assembly of Experts, the body that supervises and elects the supreme leader, headed the Combatant Clergy Association and founded Imam Sadegh University, which many officials within the Islamic Republic attended.

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