Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Rouhani leads Iran presidential race-interior ministry official

Rouhani leads Iran presidential race-interior ministry official

Election officials repeatedly extended voting hours until midnight to accommodate long lines of voters, some of whom said they waited hours to cast their ballots.

With nearly all of the votes counted, Rouhani got 22.8 million votes compared to 15.5 million for his nearest challenger, hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, according to the election committee chief Ali Asghar Ahmadi.

Mr Rouhani's main challenger lodged complaints about alleged voting irregularities. Millions of Iranians voted late into the night Friday to decide whether.

One of Rouhani's major achievements is considered to be the landmark nuclear deal struck between Iran and five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany in 2015, which enabled the oil-rich country to escape most of the economic sanctions plaguing its economy and to boost oil production and exports.

Hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi has 10.1 million votes. 40 million voters would then translates into a turnout of around 71 percent.

He cast his ballot just minutes after polls opened at 8 a.m.

Analysts expressed caution about how much Rouhani would be able to do to bring about broader reforms, despite his apparently decisive win, given the influence of security hardliners in Iran's hybrid clerical-republican system. Raisi is the chief custodian of the holy shrine of Imam Reza (AS) in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad, a role assigned by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

Iran's presidential elections will have a huge impact on country's relations with the West and on the Iran nuclear deal which was achieved after years of tough negotiations.

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The Instagram account of former President Mohammad Khatami, who has endorsed Rohani, showed a picture of Rohani making a victory sign and ran the slogan, "Hope prevailed over isolation".

Two dropped out to back Raisi and Rouhani, respectively, while the remaining candidates - reformist Mostafa Hashemitaba and conservative Mostafa Mirsalim - were headed for only a marginal percentage of the votes.

State TV congratulated Mr Rouhani on his victory, Reuters reported.

Rouhani, meanwhile, is essentially running for re-election as an outsider, and is backed by Iran's reformist camp.

At recent rallies, his supporters chanted the names of reformist leaders under house arrest since 2011 for their part in mass protests two years earlier.

Rouhani had urged the Guards not to meddle in the vote, a warning that reflects the political tension.

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

The position of president is a powerful post.

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