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World News

FACTBOX: How Iran's ruling bodies work

(Reuters) - Iran’s top legislative body on Tuesday ruled out annulling a disputed presidential poll that has touched off the biggest street protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution but said it was prepared for a partial recount.

Incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won last Friday’s presidential election, defeating challenger Mirhossein Mousavi. Tens of thousands of people have been demonstrating on the streets of Tehran protesting against the result.

Here are some details about how Iran’s political system works:

* SUPREME LEADER:

-- Iran’s 1989 constitution expanded the powers of the presidency and eliminated the post of prime minister. It also gave ultimate authority to the Supreme Leader, a position held by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini until his death in June 1989.

-- Under the Islamic Republic’s system of clerical rule, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has held ultimate authority in Iran since then, giving him the final say in all matters of state, including nuclear policy.

-- He also sets the outlines of domestic and foreign policy and directly controls the military and intelligence agencies.

* THE PRESIDENT:

-- The president is popularly elected for a maximum of two four-year terms and is completely subordinate to the Supreme Leader. His freedom of action is also curtailed by a range of unelected bodies mostly controlled by hardline clerics. These bodies, including the Guardian Council, have backed Ahmadinejad since he was elected in 2005, but thwarted his reformist predecessor Mohammad Khatami.

-- The president is responsible for economic policy and, along with his cabinet of ministers, daily management of national affairs.

-- The president also chairs the Supreme National Security Council, which coordinates defense and security policy. He can sign agreements with foreign governments and approve ambassadorial appointments. On bigger issues he defers to the Supreme Leader.

* THE GUARDIAN COUNCIL:

-- The Guardian Council is a 12-man body - six senior clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader and six Islamic jurists - which must ensure all laws passed by the Majlis agree with Islamic Sharia law and Iran’s constitution. It also vets aspiring candidates for presidential elections, and must approve the election results.

* MAJLIS (PARLIAMENT):

-- The elected Majlis, or parliament has 290 seats sitting for four years. Parliament has powers to introduce and pass legislation, summon and impeach ministers or the president. These powers are checked by the Guardian Council.

OTHER BODIES:

* ASSEMBLY OF EXPERTS:

-- The 88-member assembly founded in 1982 is a clerical body that supervises, appoints and can sack the supreme leader, although it has never knowingly intervened in policy. Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is now its head.

* EXPEDIENCY COUNCIL:

-- The Expediency Council, also headed by Rafsanjani, was set up to mediate in rows between parliament and the Guardian Council.

Sources: Reuters/Statesman’s Yearbook 2009:

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