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Iranians vote in hard-fought presidential election

19 May 2017

After casting his ballot, Rouhani said whomever the voters elect as president should receive all of the nation's support.

He added that, as Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has said, the final victor of the elections is the Iranian nation.

Iranians have begun voting in a closely-fought presidential election that could determine Iran's pace of social and economic reform and its re-engagement with the world. Those who led Iran's Green Movement after Ahmadinejad's disputed 2009 re-election remain under house arrest. "To show what I think without fearing from being in jail or something like that", she said. I like his detente policy with the world.

"I cast my vote already - I voted for Raisi because he is a follower of Imam Khamenei".

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranians vote Friday for the next president of the Islamic Republic, but how does that elected leader fit into the country's clerically managed government that approves candidates ultimately overseen by its supreme leader?

Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi, a vocal Rouhani supporter, cast his vote at a polling station in Cannes, France where he was attending the film festival. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two, presumably Rouhani and Raisi, would face each other a second time in a run-off in a week. Both deny the other's accusations.

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Conservative cleric Raisi is a hardliner who advocates protecting the conservative values of the Iranian revolution.

"But it is a risky decision".

The Guards hope that a win for Raisi will give them an opportunity to claw back economic and political power lost in Shia Iran's complex theocratic and republican governing structure since 2015, when Iran struck a nuclear deal with world powers that brought it out of worldwide isolation. But Iranians in both political camps suspect he is in fact backing his protege Raisi - not only for the presidency but potentially also as a possible successor to his own post of supreme leader, which the 77-year-old hardline cleric has held since 1989.

After the 1979 revolution, he was selected for special training by the clerical establishment and studied under Ali Khamenei, who would later become supreme leader.

Rouhani billed the deal as one that would thrust open the gates of economic opportunity, bring the country out of its isolation and create millions of jobs for Iranians.

Voting has been extended until 8 p.m. local time (11:30a.m. ET), Iran's Ministry of Interior said.

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Mr Rouhani will have been relieved when the Trump administration agreed to stick with the nuclear deal for now. Raisi also has promised monthly cash payments to the poor, a populist move that's been popular with Iranian voters in the past.

At first, six presidential candidates had been registered, but Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and First Vice President Eshaq Jahangir withdrew from the race earlier this week.

The campaign was replete with caustic televised debates and bruising broadsides. Raisi accused Rouhani of "economic elitism, mismanagement, yielding to Western pressure, and corruption".

Some 350,000 security forces were deployed around the country to protect the election, state television reported.

Polls close at 13:30GMT, although authorities often extend voting into the evening.

Ballot counting will start at midnight and final results are expected within 24 hours of polls closing, the semi-official Fars news agency said.

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The Leader also highlighted the significance of the City and Village Councils elections, saying members of those councils are in charge of handling the daily affairs of people.