Iran's Assembly of Experts, the clerics who appoint and can dismiss the country's supreme leader, picked ultraconservative candidate Mohammad Yazdi as their new chairman in a surprise appointment on Tuesday.Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, 83, was a deputy speaker of parliament after the 1979 Islamic revolution and headed the judiciary for a decade until 1999.
He gained 47 of the 73 votes cast at a closed-door meeting in Tehran, according to the website of state television, citing officials.
Yazdi was among five contenders whose names had been linked to the post by Iranian media in recent weeks but he was not the most talked about.
His election represents a heavy defeat for former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a relative moderate who previously held the position between 2007 and 2011, and who received 24 votes.
Read more: Middle East - Iranian hardliner picked to head powerful supervisory body - France 24