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Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

20 May 2017, 12:45 | Taylor George

Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

The country's Election Commission said Rouhani had obtained over 14.6 million votes, or approximately 56 per cent of the almost 26 million counted so far, suggesting he is on track for victory, Efe news reported.

Iranians living in Canada eager to cast ballots in Friday's all-important presidential election were forced to cross the border to vote in the USA, or not vote at all.

The Iranian interior ministry said it would announce the first series of results from Friday's presidential election during the course of Saturday.

Rohani, who oversaw the breakthrough nuclear deal with world powers to ease worldwide sanctions, has promised engagement with the West and more freedom for Iranians.

Fear of a Raisi presidency prompted many in Iran to vote.

Voting was extended beyond normal voting hours, with many people still casting their ballot close to the midnight cut-off.

The first was Tehran's hard-line mayor, Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, who pledged his support for Raisi on Monday. A number of 63,500 polling stations were set up in Iran, while hundreds more in different countries of the world.

Rouhani, meanwhile, is essentially running for re-election as an outsider, and is backed by Iran's reformist camp. The president oversees a vast state bureaucracy employing more than 2 million people, is charged with naming Cabinet members and other officials to key posts, and plays a significant role in shaping both domestic and foreign policy.

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Rouhani hit back in a sharper campaign strategy to mobilize Iranian women and young people who became jaded about the vote after losing hope in his ability to ease religious repression in society as promised in 2013, when he won by a landslide. 40 million voters would then translates into a turnout of around 71 percent. He had attributed his success to the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran, the U.S. and other countries.

Analysts have suggested a big election turnout could benefit Rohani, as high participation in the past has led to the election of reformist or moderate candidates.

Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, a vocal Rouhani supporter, voted in Cannes, France where he was attending the film festival.

The rest of the candidates trailed far behind Rouhani and Raisi, with Mostafa Mirsalim getting 455,211 votes and Mostafa Hashem Taba 210,597 votes at the latest count.

All candidates for elected office must be vetted, a process that excludes anyone calling for radical change, along with most reformists.

At recent rallies, his supporters chanted for reformist leaders who have been under house arrest since 2011. The Instagram account of Rouhani ally, former president Mohammad Khatami, showed a picture of Rouhani making a victory sign and ran the slogan "Hope prevailed over isolation".

But in an apparent reference to the 2009 disturbances, Khamenei, an unelected clerical hardliner who has the ultimate say in Iran, has previously warned he would confront anyone trying to interfere in the election.



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