World

Iran: Voting Hours Extended for the Third Time

Iran: Voting Hours Extended for the Third Time

State TV offered its congratulations in a brief statement Saturday, based on vote tallies.

"Iranians and Iran just started gaining respect in the world under Rouhani and the economy is doing slightly better", said the 35-year-old, who declined to give his surname.

According to the Interior Ministry, over 40 million votes were cast on Friday and voting time was extended by five hours due to "requests" and the "enthusiastic participation of people", reports the BBC.

The Interior Ministry reported that 40 million ballots were cast out of 56 million registered voters, representing a 70 percent turnout, similar to the 2013 elections which brought Rouhani to power.

He could face tough competition from hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who is perceived to be close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iranian went to the polls on Friday to choose the next president from four candidates including incumbent President Hassan Rouhani. Ahmadi said final results would be announced later on Saturday.

Rouhani was elected on the promise of creating a more open society. Many say they are yet to see the benefits of the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its contested nuclear program over the objection of hard-liners in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions. And while ultimate power in Iran rests with the supreme leader, these elections do matter.

"The last two decades of presidential elections have been short days of euphoria followed by long years of disillusionment", said Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who focuses on Iran.




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

President Hassan Rouhani is widely seen as the front-runner after his moderate administration struck the atomic accord.

Mr Rouhani is promising "progress and hope" and his supporters have come out in droves, at one point even filling a stadium with a huge crowd doing the Mexican wave.

Rouhani's chief of staff Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted that Rouhani had won 60 percent of the vote. According to ABC news Rouhani faced staunch challenge from Raisi over his outreach to the West in the nuclear deal.

The embassy in The Hague is the only place in the Netherlands where Iranians can vote in this election.

Rouhani gained a reprieve this week when Washington agreed to continue waiving nuclear-related sanctions, keeping the deal on track for now.

US President Donald Trump opposes the deal, which eased sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, but his White House renewed it earlier this week. That includes Rouhani openly criticizing hardliners and Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force now involved in the war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Supporters of the two leading candidates honked, blared music and held pictures of the hopefuls out of auto windows on the traffic-clogged and heavily policed streets of Tehran late into the night Thursday, ignoring a ban on campaigning in the final 24 hours before the vote. Former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, one of Iran's most popular and influential politicians, received 20m (69.6%) in 1997.


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