Iran state TV declares Rouhani wins vote for second term

Iran state TV declares Rouhani wins vote for second term

Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi casts his ballot in the presidential election at a polling station in southern Tehran on May 19, 2017.

President Hassan Rouhani was leading in Iran's election with more than half of votes counted on Saturday, the head of the election committee announced.

Rouhani's re-election is likely to safeguard the 2015 agreement, under which most worldwide sanctions have been lifted in return for Iran curbing its nuclear programme.

There are about 56 million eligible Iranians and they can vote at one of 63,500 polling stations across the country. "The country's fate is determined by the people", Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, casting his ballot in Tehran as lengthy queues formed across the country of 80 million.

However Mr Raisi has support among the poor and in rural areas.

Analysts have suggested that a high voter turnout will help Rouhani win a second four-year term.

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". Polls are now expected to close at 10 p.m.

In the campaign trail, Rouhani sought to frame the vote as a choice between greater civil liberties and "extremism", criticising the continued arrest of reformist leaders and activists. "He kept the shadow of war far from our country".

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"As the young people anywhere in the world, of course we want to elect a president who cares about our aspirations and leads the country towards prosperity", a young Kurdish supporter of Rouhani in Tehran told Rudaw. He also has history on his side, as all incumbent presidents have won re-election since 1981.

That doesn't mean it will be easy, however. It was widely believed that a low turnout would favor Raisi because he is favored by Iran's security forces, who could mobilize support for him.

Raisi promised more focus on the poor and attacked the government as corrupt and elitist.

Rouhani was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, the European Union and other partners.

It came despite a Tuesday announcement by Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli that the election results would be declared after all the votes were counted.

"The presidential vote is very important".

Mostafa Hashemitaba, a pro-reform figure who previously ran for president in 2001, and Mostafa Mirsalim, a former culture minister, also remain in the race. In the Netherlands Dutch-Iranians can vote at the Iranian embassy in The Hague.

He told NPR's Morning Edition that leaders in the US -allied countries of Israel and Saudi Arabia are likely to advocate "a policy which goes back to status quo ante on Iran which is pushing Iran back in the Middle East". He had attributed his success to the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran, the U.S. and other countries. "Both might be reformist candidates for the next presidency", Sam added. President Donald Trump has repeatedly described it as "one of the worst deals ever signed", although his administration re-authorized waivers from sanctions this week.

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