(Persia Digest) – Tehran City Council on Thursday unanimously voted in favor of Mohammad Ali Najafi to become the next mayor of Tehran.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Morteza Alviri, a senior member of the newly-elected City Council said Najafi has been picked as the final choice for the post of Tehran Mayor with the unanimous vote of the council.

Alviri said the election will be formalized only when the 21-member council convenes its first official meeting. 

Najafi will replace Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, a conservative politician and critic of the Rouhani administration.

Mohammad Ali Najafi, 66, is a veteran reformist politician and a senior economic advisor to President Hassan Rouhani. He served as minister of education for eight years under the late president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-97) and was Rouhani’s top choice for the same portfolio in 2013, but failed to secure enough votes in parliament, which at that time was controlled by Rouhani’s political opponents.

He was later appointed at the helm of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization but resigned six months later, citing poor health.

Najafi also served as the head of the Management and Planning Organization from 1997 to 2000.

He has a master’s degree in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ghalibaf ‎‎, 55 is a former military officer and Police Chief (2000-2005) and commander of Revolutionary Guards' Air Force (1997 to 2000). In September 2005, he was elected Tehran's mayor by the City Council.

Ghalibaf is often regarded as a perennial candidate in the presidential elections. He was a candidate in the 2013 presidential race but lost to Hassan Rouhani, in second place with 6,077,292 of the votes. He was also a candidate in the 2005 presidential election. He announced his run for a third time in the 2017 election. However, he withdrew on 15 May 2017 in favor of Ebrahim Raisi.

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