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Iran begins vote to choose Ahmadinejad’s successor

TEHRAN: Millions of voters across Iran began casting their ballots on Friday to elect the successor of outgoing leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the state television announced.

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Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who votes in the earliest moments after the opening of the polls urged people to vote en masse.

“Inshallah (God willing), the Iranian people will create a new political epic. I advise all people to vote and do so in the early hours of the morning,” said the Iranian leader in a live broadcast on state television.

The six candidates in Iran’s presidential election are the President of the Expediency Council’s Center for Strategic Research Hassan Rohani, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili, Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, and former Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Gharazi.

Former Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel and former First Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref withdrew their candidacy bids respectively on Monday and early Tuesday. The president of Iran is elected for a four-year term in a national election.

Although all six candidates are seen as conservatives, one of them, cleric Hassan Rowhani, has been reaching out to the reformists in recent days.

Khamenei also attacked US criticism of the presidential poll. Some US officials had said they did not recognise the presidential election, he noted.

“The hell with you… “who do not agree with the way the election is being run, Khamenei said. “The Iranian people… will do what is in their interest,” he added.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, noting the way the field had been narrowed down to six candidates, had told reporters in Washington on Thursday: “By international standards, this election is not free, fair or transparent.

“The candidates were chosen by the Guardian Council, which is unelected and… an unaccountable body. Nonetheless, the Iranian people will make some choice among the small choices that they have,” she added.

The polls will remain open for the next 10 hours, though voting may be extended until midnight, if the interior ministry decides that it is necessary.

If no candidate garners 50 percent of the ballots cast in the first round, a runoff vote will be held on June 21. In the second round, the candidate with the most votes will be the winner and will take office if approved by the Guardian Council — a process that takes between seven and ten days.

Over 66,000 polling stations have been set up across the country, while expatriates have also been able to cast ballots at 285 polling stations that have been set up in their respective countries.

Nearly 50.5 million Iranians are eligible to vote in the upcoming election. The fourth city and rural council elections are also scheduled to be held on the same day.

Asad Haroon
Asad Haroon
A netpreneur, blogger and above all; A Human :) Asad tweets from @aghaasadharoon and can also be approached on Google+

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