Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. (1989-present)
The post of Supreme Leader (ولی فقیه or رهبر in Persian) was created in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran as the central political and religious power. The Supreme Leader is Iran's Head of State, with the President of Iran being head of government.
The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts and serves for life, although he can theoretically be deposed by the same assembly. Although the members of assembly of experts are elected by public vote, a certain Guardian Council appointed by the supreme leader vets the candidates before the election, so the process is not completely democratic. The candidates must be members of the Shia clergy.
The duties of The Supreme Leader are:
Delineation of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran after consultation with the Nation's Exigency Council.
Supervision over the proper execution of the general policies of the system.
Issuing decrees for national referenda.
Assuming supreme command of the armed forces.
Declaration of war and peace, and the mobilization of the armed forces.
Appointment, dismissal, and acceptance of resignation of:
the fuqaha' on the Guardian Council.
the supreme judicial authority of the country.
the head of the radio and television network of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
the chief of the joint staff.
the chief commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
the supreme commanders of the armed forces.
Resolving differences between the three wings of the armed forces and regulation of their relations.
Resolving the problems, which cannot be solved by conventional methods, through the Nation's Exigency Council.
Signing the decree formalizing the election of the President of the Republic by the people.
Dismissal of the President of the Republic, with due regard for the interests of the country, after the Supreme Court holds him guilty of the violation of his constitutional duties, or after a vote of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (The Majlis) testifying to his incompetence on the basis of Article 89 of the Constitution.
Pardoning or reducing the sentences of convicts, within the framework of Islamic criteria, on a recommendation (to that effect) from the Head of judicial power. The Leader may delegate part of his duties and powers to another person.
Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran has had two Supreme Leaders:
While the SupremeLeader is the ultimate head of the Iranian political establishment, the President of Iran fulfils many of the classic roles for a head of state, such as accrediting ambassadors.
The question of how the SupremeLeader and the President match up with the theoretical definitions of head of state or head of government is a thorny one; however, de facto and de jure the SupremeLeader's authority is, as the title implies, supreme.
The SupremeLeader is elected by the Assembly of Experts and serves for life, although he can theoretically be deposed by the same assembly.
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