World

Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

President Hassan Rouhani fills in his ballot while voting for the presidential and municipal councils election at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, Friday, May 19, 2017.

Iranians poured into polling stations on Friday to give their verdict on President Hassan Rouhani and his troubled efforts to rebuild ties with the world and kick-start the struggling economy.

The interior ministry official said that with 25 million ballots certified by the authorities so far, Rouhani won 14.619 million and Raisi gained 10.125 million.

Counting is underway on Saturday in Iran's Presidential election, with the official turnout said to be at about 70 per cent, poll officials said.

Shortly before polls were due to close, state television reported that voting had been extended by at least two extra hours to 8:00 pm (1530 GMT) to cope with a "rush of voters".

Raisi, a law professor and former prosecutor who heads an influential religious charitable foundation with vast business holdings, is seen by many as close to Khamenei.

"Everyone should vote in this important election. vote at early hours", Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said after casting his vote in the capital Tehran.

Raisi has attacked the Rouhani government for his "weak" stance during negotiations and for having failed to cash in on the deal.




"This election boils down to a fundamental choice between two priorities", said Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group.

A Rouhani second term would allow Iran to present its "best face" and protect the nuclear deal by driving a wedge between the USA and other signatories, said Vaez at Crisis Group.

People from 102 countries including Pakistan, India, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan casted their votes to elect new Iranian president.

The other two candidates - Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, a reformer who had previously served as vice president under president Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005); and Mostafa Mirsalim, who served as culture minister between 1994 and 1997, but afterwards turned his back on politics - are not viewed as contenders. The reelection lead to unrest, mass arrests and killings.

More than 54 million people were eligible to vote in the presidential election.

Electoral decisions in Iran are taken by its most powerful political body, the Guardian Council.

The presidential race was touted as a battle between Rouhani and Raisi, and also as a test of the popularity of the reigning leader's moderate agenda.

"I am disappointed with all the candidates, but I came to cast my vote because I don't want to make our enemies - Saudi Arabia, Israel and America - happy", said Morteza Baghernejad, a 50-year-old.


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