Tribute to the fallen
Iran’s long-serving parliament speaker will retain his post despite gains by reformists in elections held earlier this year, the official IRNA news agency has reported. Ali Larijani, a 59-year-old moderate conservative, was re-elected by 173 of the 281 lawmakers who attended yesterday’s session. He defeated Mohammed Reza Aref, a reformist who is more open to expanding social and political freedoms. Both the moderate conservatives and the reformists support President Hassan Rouhani and the nuclear deal reached last year, but the reformists also want to ease restrictions on freedom of expression. The election of Larijani marks an early victory for the moderate conservatives in the new parliament, which met for the first time on Saturday. IRNA says Larijani, who has been speaker for eight years, was voted interim speaker yesterday. He is expected to be re-elected once the credentials of new parliament members are verified.
French President Francois Hollande (centre) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) laid a wreath at a German cemetery in Consenvoye, northeastern France, yesterday, during a remembrance ceremony to mark the centenary of the battle of Verdun. Hollande and Merkel are marking 100 years since the 10-month Battle of Verdun, which killed 163,000 French and 143,000 German soldiers and wounded hundreds of thousands.