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Head of Iran's influential clerical body, Mohammadreza Mahdavi Kani, dead at 83

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, March. 4, 2014 file photo, Head of the Iran's Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani speaks during a biannual meeting of the assembly in Tehran, Iran. Kani, the head of Iran's most influential clerical body charged with choosing or dismissing the country's supreme leader, has died. He was 83. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

    FILE - In this Tuesday, March. 4, 2014 file photo, Head of the Iran's Assembly of Experts Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani speaks during a biannual meeting of the assembly in Tehran, Iran. Kani, the head of Iran's most influential clerical body charged with choosing or dismissing the country's supreme leader, has died. He was 83. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Saturday Aug. 18, 200 file photo, Commander-in-chief of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, (IRGC) Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, right, shakes hands with an unidentified cleric as senior cleric Ayatollah Mohammadreza Mahdavi Kani, stands at left, during a religious meeting in Tehran, Iran. Kani, the head of Iran's most influential clerical body charged with choosing or dismissing the country's supreme leader, has died. He was 83. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)

    FILE - In this Saturday Aug. 18, 200 file photo, Commander-in-chief of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, (IRGC) Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, right, shakes hands with an unidentified cleric as senior cleric Ayatollah Mohammadreza Mahdavi Kani, stands at left, during a religious meeting in Tehran, Iran. Kani, the head of Iran's most influential clerical body charged with choosing or dismissing the country's supreme leader, has died. He was 83. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)  (The Associated Press)

Ayatollah Mohammadreza Mahdavi Kani, the head of Iran's most influential clerical body charged with choosing or dismissing the country's supreme leader, has died. He was 83.

Kani was the the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, a body of 86 senior clerics that monitors the supreme leader and picks a successor after his death, making it one of the most powerful institutions in Iran, though it doesn't involve itself in daily affairs of state.

Kani held the post since March 2011, after his predecessor, Iran's influential former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was forced out following a dispute with several hard-line clerics.

Kani, a former acting prime minister and interior minister in the 80s, had been in a coma since June. He was considered a moderate conservative.