Islamic Republic of Iran, The Leadership

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Islamic Republic of Iran
The Leadership
(Source: Iran Year Book, 1996)

The highest authority in the Islamic Republic is Leader – or alternatively, the Leadership Council – who exercises the combined supreme political and religious power and, indeed, is a manifestation of the integration of politics with religion (Article 5 of the constitution).

Furthermore, the constitution has provided for the election of a Leader or a Leadership Council and the qualifications of the Leader or members of the Leadership Council (Article 107).

The first leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini assumed his position as the founder of the Islamic republic and the theological protector (vali-e-faqih). Duties, powers, and qualifications of the leaders, or the Leadership Council, as the case may be, have been specified by the constitution (Article 109-111).

After the demise of Ayatollah Khomeini on 3 June 1989 Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei was elected by the Assembly of Experts in May 1989 as the new leader of the Islamic Republic.

There are several institutions and agencies which are not accountable to any branch of the state and are overseen by the leader through his representatives. These include:

Panzdah Khordad Foundation (Bonyad-e Panzdah Khordad)

Martyr Foundation (Bonyad-e Shahid)

Housing Foundation (Bonyad-e Maskan)

Literacy Movement (Nehzat-e Savad-Amoozi)

Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution (Shoraye Aali Enqelab-e Farhangi)

Islamic Propaganda Organization (Sazeman-e Tablighat-e Islami)
Land Allocation Committees (Hay’athaye Vagozari Zamin)

Foundation of the Oppressed (bonyad-e Mostaz’afan)

The amendment of the constitution has modified the constitution as follows:

the Leadership Council has been removed and the Assembly of Experts for Leadership given the task of electing a single leader. The constitution originally provided for the election of a leader either by the people, as in the case of Ayatollah Khomeini, or by the Assembly of Experts. The related amendment has removed the first option. The Assembly of Experts has also been given the task of dismissing the leader from his position if he is incapable of carrying out his duties, or if he loses the requirements of a leader, or if it becomes clear that he lacked some of them from the beginning;

The leader is no longer required to be a supreme theological authority (marja’ taqlid) whom Shia Muslims follow. He should possess adequate knowledge to issue edicts on the basis of various chapters of the Islamic canon;

The powers and duties of the leader have been set as follows, although he may delegate them to his representatives:

Deciding the overall policies of the country after consultation with the Council for Determination of Exigencies – the leader has the final say;

Ordering referenda;

The resignation of Islamic canonist members of the Guardian Council, head of the judiciary, director of the Radio and Television Organization, chief of army general staff, the commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and the commanders of the armed and security forces;

General command of the armed forces;

Declaring war and peace and ordering mobilization of forces;

Resolving disputes between the heads of the three branches of the state and regulating the relationship between them;

Signing the decree endorsing the president on his election;

Dismissing the president in the national interest, should a ruling of the Supreme Court find him in breach of his duties, or a vote of Majlis disqualify him;

Pardoning prisoners or commuting their sentences at the recommendation of the head of the judiciary;

Solving those problems which cannot be solved by ordinary means, through the Council for Determination of Exigencies.