Iran’s leadership is preparing for the day that the Supreme Leader dies.
Iran has formed a special group that has been tasked with reviewing candidates to replace 76-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the next supreme leader of the Islamic Republic.
The election will take place in February 2016 and Iran’s next leader will be determined by the Assembly of Experts, a body of 86 Islamic spiritual leaders.
Khamenei underwent prostate surgery last year and rumors have recently resurfaced about his failing health.
In an interview with Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a member of the current Assembly of Experts and also a candidate to replace Kamenei, said “when it is decided that the supreme leader will be changed, or not be here and for someone else to come, once again a great task must be undertaken.”
“Of course, they are preparing and researching and have put together a group who are reviewing individuals so that those who have the qualifications, if later there is an event, they could put them forward for a vote. This is the main work of the [Assembly of] Experts,” Rafsanjani added.
Rafsanjani’s remarks on the election process are rare, and were criticized by his peers. Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary, without mentioning Rafsanjani’s name, criticized the media’s publication of “baseless talk about the Assembly of Experts supervising the supreme leader and the institutions that operate under him.”