Days Numbered For Iran's Supreme Leader?

(AP Photo)
In what could be a huge development, Iran's religious leaders are reportedly discussing the creation of an alternative form of government that would replace the supreme leader with a collective leadership body, according to Al Arabiya news channel.

Iran installed a supreme leader following the 1979 Islamic revolution and only two men have held the post – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current leader. The stability of that system has come under question as protests over the disputed June 12 presidential election have turned violent.

Clerics in Qom, an important Iranian religious center, and members of the Assembly of Experts are considering changes to the current government model in order to restore political stability, sources in Qom told Al Arabiya.

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A central figure in such a debate is Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for electing the supreme leader. He also chairs the Expediency Council, which settles disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council.

Rafsanjani is widely believed to be supportive of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, though he has made no public declarations on the matter. Several of his children have very publicly backed Mousavi and were arrested and briefly detained by Iranian authorities over the weekend.

Clerics are also reportedly considering the forced resignation of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose reelection sparked the massive demonstrations that have gripped the Iranian capital for a week.