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Iranian officials mourn powerful cleric

The death of Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani has left open a powerful position with the authority to elect and supervise the supreme leader of Iran.
EDITORS' NOTE:  Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to film or take pictures in Tehran.

Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani attends a conference in Tehran, in this file photo dated August 14, 2008. Arch hardliner Mahdavi-Kani was elected and confirmed as head of Iran's Assembly of Experts on March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/Files  (IRAN - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2JNIK

Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, the former chairman of the Assembly of Experts, fell into a coma June 4 after suffering a stroke. Despite his family members asserting that he was recovering, the 83-year-old clergyman — who had long suffered from heart disease — died Oct. 20 and ended speculation that a power struggle over his successor and an internal fight over his wealth inheritance would keep him alive for several months.

Mahdavi Kani’s death, which will be followed by two days of mourning as prompted by President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, obviously will not change the path of the Islamic Republic. But the Islamic system has lost one of its key pragmatic clerical advisers, and most importantly, someone who chaired an assembly that is tasked, at least in theory, with choosing and supervising the supreme leader of Iran.

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