An Iranian government official has urged the Assembly of Experts, an influential conservative clerical body to focus on its legal duties in overseeing the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, instead of interfering in other domains.
In recent years, the Assembly of Experts has been issuing guidelines and recommendations for executive, legislative, and judicial branches, instead of doing its initial duty that the constitution specifies, Ali Akbar Gorji, a law professor and high-ranking member of the presidential office, told the News Agency ILNA on Thursday.
According to Iran’s constitution, the 88-member assembly, elected every eight years by the voters, should supervise, appoint and even sack the Supreme Leader.
Article 111 provides that the Assembly of Experts can dismiss the leader if “he becomes incapable of fulfilling his constitutional duties or loses one of the qualifications mentioned in Articles 5 and 109, or it becomes known that he did not possess some of the qualifications initially.”
“Justice” and “right political and social perspicacity”, and “prudence” are among such qualifications.
However, critics say that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been able to exclude his opponents from the Assembly of Experts with the help of the Guardian Council that determines who can run as a candidate, and as a result, the body has turned into a loyal institution that does not evaluate him objectively.
“The Assembly of Experts does not have any legal authority to oversee other branches of the government, and even if the law would allow it, the assembly would not have enough time to do so, because the task of overseeing the leader is vast enough,” Gorji told ILNA.
“History will not condemn the members of the Assembly of Experts for not overseeing the president, the ministers, and the governors, but it will judge them based on how they have overseen the leader and the entities under his control”, he added and demanded that the overseeing commissions of the assembly should be established soon in order to investigate various matters and report to the people on regular basis.
Ayatollah Khamenei is in control of several entities worth billions of dollars. Most of them are exempt from paying taxes and any investigation on their performance has been a taboo so far. One of these entities is called “Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam” – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam.
Reuters reported in 2013 that the organization’s holdings of real estate, corporate stakes and other assets total about $95 billion. According to Reuters, that estimate was the result of an analysis of statements by Setad officials, data from the Tehran Stock Exchange and company websites, and information from the U.S. Treasury Department