0424 GMT July 24, 2021
Iranians voted on Friday in the country’s 13th presidential election to choose a successor to President Hassan Rouhani.
More than 72,000 booths opened at 7:00 a.m. local time across the nation to let in over 59 million eligible voters to cast their ballots to pick their favorite out of four candidates that include former governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati, lawmaker Amirhossein Qazizadeh Hashemi, Judiciary chief Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, and Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei.
Election officials said around 3.5 million Iranian expatriates were also eligible to vote in 234 polling stations set up by the country’s diplomatic missions overseas.
City council, midterm parliamentary, and Assembly of Experts elections were held simultaneously with the presidential vote, Press TV wrote.
Officials stressed that health protocols would be strictly observed in all polling stations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
National television showed long queues outside polling stations in several cities.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei cast his ballot just after polls opened at a ballot box in a mosque adjoining his office in the capital Tehran.
“Election Day is the day of the Iranian nation. Today, people are in charge,” Ayatollah Khamenei said after voting. “Even one single vote counts. No one should say ‘What will my one vote do?’ These one votes become millions when combined.”
“Everything that the Iranian people do today until tonight, by going to the polls and voting, serves to build their future.”
Two days before the election, the Leader urged voters to come out in droves to elect “a powerful president” – warning that “the satanic power centers of the world” are trying to undermine the ballot.
Senior Iranian officials, including the heads of the three branches of power, also cast their votes in the capital.
Addressing the nation after casting his vote, President Rouhani said Iran was among a few countries in the world whose elections attract international attention.
“People should be mindful that the whole world is today focused on the ballot boxes and the people’s queues to cast their votes. God willing, we will act in a way that will make our friends across the world happy and frustrate our enemies,” he said.
“Elections are important despite the problems and issues,” he added.
Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, who voted in downtown Tehran, called ballot boxes Iran’s “biggest political and social capital” that need to be protected.
The results are expected to be out on Saturday. If no clear winner emerges, a runoff will be held next Friday.
The winner of the election will take over in August, as Iran’s eighth president, from Rouhani who has served the maximum of two consecutive four-year-terms allowed under the Constitution.
Rouhani’s key achievement was the landmark 2015 deal with world powers under which Iran limited its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. But former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in 2018 and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, AFP wrote.