Voting starts in Iranian presidential election
A potential run-off vote will be held in a week's time. Iranians were voting Friday to choose a new president in an election the reformists hope their sole candidate will win in the face of divided conservative ranks, four years after the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. More than 50.5 million people are eligible to vote for the man -- no women candidates were approved -- to succeed Ahmadinejad, who is barred from standing for a third consecutive term under the constitution.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called for a large turnout but not publicly stated his preference for any single candidate, voted early. 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.
He also attacked US criticism of the presidential poll. Some US officials had said they did not recognise the presidential election, he noted.
If no candidate secures 50.1 percent or more of the votes to win outright on Friday, a second round will be held a week later. With the conservative camp divided, reformists seem confident of a good showing by moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani, who has emerged as a frontrunner with a real chance of forcing a run-off, analysts say.
A pack of three heads the conservatives: former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and the Islamic republic's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili. Both sides, reformist and conservative, have appealed for the electorate to turn out in high numbers -- the first hoping for change and the other to show the power of a regime accused of seeking to ensure victory for a Khamenei loyalist.
For both reformists and conservatives, the key on Friday will be to mobilise abstentionists who demonstrated against Ahmadinejad's re-election in 2009, alleging massive electoral fraud. The authorities cracked down hard on deadly street unrest sparked by that result, leading to the eventual detention under house arrest of two reformist candidates, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at The New Age Online