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Ebrahim Raisi elected Iran’s new president as rivals concede

Iran’s state media, said Raisi held a huge lead after a partial vote count, after earlier announcing that the hardline judiciary chief had won, as his rivals conceded even before official results were announced.

Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran's presidential elections waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran, Iran Friday, June 18, 2021.
Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran’s presidential elections waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran, Iran Friday, June 18, 2021. (AP)

Congratulations have poured in for Iran’s hardliner Ebrahim Raisi on winning the country’s presidential election as his rivals conceded even before official results were announced.

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State media earlier announced on Saturday that Raisi had won, as his only moderate rival congratulated him.

Former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati earlier wrote on Instagram to judiciary chief Raisi: “I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran.”

According to preliminary vote count, Raisi won 62 percent or 17.8 million votes, to Rezaei’s 3.3 million and Hemmati’s 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters.

The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

The official said more than 28 million Iranians out of 59 million eligible voters had cast ballots.

The initial results announced also appeared to show the race had the country’s lowest turnout of any vote since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. However, the vote had no international observers to monitor the election in line with past years.

Vote count was still underway, but reports suggest Raisi could be winning by a big margin.

Rouhani congratulates people

Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani later said his successor had been elected, but did not name the widely expected victor.

“I congratulate the people on their choice,” said Rouhani after Friday’s vote as other candidates also congratulated Raisi. “My official congratulations will come later, but we know who got enough votes in this election and who is elected today by the people.”

Raisi did not immediately acknowledge Hemmati’s concession, nor that of former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei, who also conceded the loss.

Mohsen Rezaei’s concession in a post on Twitter came as Iran’s outgoing President Hassan Rouhani also acknowledged the winner in the country’s vote Friday was “clear,” though he didn’t immediately name judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

The election on Friday was dominated by Raisi, a protege of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, after the disqualification of the strongest competitors who could have challenged him in the vote.

Low turnout

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017.

At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shia cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard.

At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country — as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2 am Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide.

Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls.

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