Rise Of Ahmadinejad Rival Hints At A Shift In Iran

New York Times: A rival to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected by an overwhelming majority as speaker of the Iranian Parliament on Wednesday, a strong signal of growing impatience with the president’s economic policies and a possible sign of a political shift in the country.

The new speaker, Ali Larijani, who resigned as the country’s nuclear negotiator in October over differences with Mr. Ahmadinejad, is a conservative and an ardent advocate of Iran’s nuclear program, but is seen as more pragmatic in his approach and perhaps willing to engage in diplomacy with the West.

The post of speaker is normally a powerful one in Iranian politics, and Mr. Larijani’s elevation also suggests that the new Parliament will be much more likely than the last one to challenge Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is up for re-election in June 2009.

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