Conservative ex-Tehran mayor Ghalibaf elected Iran speaker May 29, 2020 0 568 12345 AFPTehranIran’s new parliament on Thursday elected former Tehran mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf as its speaker, consolidating the power of conservatives ahead of next year’s presidential election.The vote further shifts the political balance toward ultra-conservative opponents of the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani at a time Iran is engaged in a bitter standoff with arch foe the United States.State television said the 58-year-old Ghalibaf -- also a former national police chief and ex-commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ air force -- won 230 of the 267 votes cast to secure one of the most influential positions in the Islamic republic.Bespectacled, balding and wearing a dark suit, Ghalibaf accepted congratulations from MPs, then moved towards the speaker’s seat with a smile and told the chamber: “I thank God for being given a chance to serve the people.”Ghalibaf is a three-time presidential candidate who served as Tehran mayor from 2005 to 2017.In the vote for the speaker post, he roundly defeated conservative lawmakers Fereydoun Abbasi and Mostafa Mirsalim who garnered 17 and 12 votes respectively.Ghalibaf also received the most votes from the capital in Iran’s February 21 parliamentary election, which saw the lowest turnout in decades.An alliance of “principalists” -- or conservatives -- and ultra-conservatives swept the election in the absence of any challenge from the reformist side.As a result, parliament is now dominated by ultra-conservatives who opposed Rouhani on almost all issues, from dealing with the United States to running the sanctions-hit economy and containing the region’s deadliest coronavirus outbreak.The health ministry said Thursday the virus had claimed 63 more lives, taking the death toll to 7,627 people out of 143,849 confirmed cases since Iran reported its first fatalities on February 19.Iran is scheduled to hold a presidential poll in around 12 months when Rouhani’s second and final term ends.Ghalibaf had unsuccessfully challenged Rouhani’s first bid for the presidency and dropped out of the 2017 election to support Ebrahim Raisi, who now serves as Iran’s judiciary chief.Thursday’s vote saw Ghalibaf succeed Ali Larijani, who had held the speaker post since 2008.Larijani also congratulated Ghalibaf in a statement and said he had been a “hardworking manager of the system in different positions”.The speaker not only directs the parliament’s affairs but also has a seat at the High Council of Economic Coordination alongside the president and judiciary chief. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Philippines eases capital’s strict virus lockdown May 29, 2020 0 2441 India sidesteps Trump mediation offer over China border showdown May 29, 2020 0 601 Afghan forces killed in first ‘Taliban attack’ since end of ceasefire May 29, 2020 0 646 Iran dismisses ‘desperate’ US move to end nuclear waivers Tehran Tehran on Thursday dismissed the impact of what it called Washington’s “desperate attempt” to end sanction waivers for nations that remain in the Iran nuclear accord. The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran said .. Crashed Pakistani jet’s cockpit voice recorder found AFP Islamabad Investigators scouring the site of a crashed Pakistani airliner found the jet’s cockpit voice recorder Thursday and hope it will answer why pilots had failed at an initial landing attempt. The Pakistan .. India’s Supreme Court orders relief to ease migrant worker crisis New Delhi India’s Supreme Court on Thursday issued a series of orders to alleviate a looming humanitarian crisis among millions of migrant workers stranded in cities as the country enters a third month of coronavirus .. Rwanda court sentences ex-mayor to life for role in genocide AFP Kigali Rwanda’s High Court on Thursday sentenced a former mayor to life in prison for his role in the country’s 1994 genocide, which included leading attacks that resulted in the deaths of around 25,000 ethnic Tutsis .. Jordan to allow weekly prayers at mosques, churches from next week Amman Jordan will open mosques and churches for weekly prayers from next week, the government said on Thursday, as the kingdom gradually lifts restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Muslims will be .. Gunmen kill dozens in northwest Nigeria attacks AFP Kano Gunmen on motorcycles killed dozens of people in a string of attacks on villages in the restive northwest of Nigeria, as the authorities struggle to curb the violence. Gangs of armed criminals -- known locally as .. Turkey to reopen restaurants in easing of virus lockdown Istanbul Turkey will allow restaurants and cafes to reopen on Monday and lift inter-city travel restrictions in a further loosening of its coronavirus lockdown, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Thursday. ..