Roundup: Iranians vote for president in high turnout

2017-05-19 21:10:56 GMT2017-05-20 05:10:56(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

TEHRAN, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Large number of Iranians lined up inthe polling stations on Friday to decide on the presidential seatfor the next four years.

The election began on Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. local time(0330 GMT) as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast his votein the ballot box.

Iran's Interior Ministry extended the voting time by six hoursuntil 24:00 p.m. local time (1930 GMT) due to the high turnout inthe election.

On Friday, Khamenei urged Iranians to actively participate inthe election and go to the polling stations for the vote at theearliest time.

The election of the president is important in the Islamicrepublic and the people should take note of this point, Khameneisaid in a live TV broadcast.

He also hailed the elections as the sign of democracy inIran.

Some 56 million Iranians were eligible for voting, and over60,000 ballot boxes had been prepared nationwide to receivevotes.

On April 21, out of 1,636 registered candidates, six qualifiedto compete for the four-year presidential term, including threeprincipalists, better known as conservatives, as well as twocentrists and one reformist.

On Tuesday, Iran's reformist Vice President Eshaq Jahangiriannounced his withdrawal from the race in order to back incumbentPresident Hassan Rouhani, urging all his supporters to vote forRouhani.

Tehran's Mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a conservative candidate,said in a statement on Monday that he withdrew from thepresidential race to back Raisi.

On Thursday, Iranian Interior Ministry officially announced thenames of incumbent Hassan Rouhani, Ebrahim Raisi, MostafaAgha-Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemi Taba as the four hopefuls for theFriday presidential election.

Over the past days, the prevailing themes of the debates in theIranian political scene revolved around either reform-orientedtopics or subject matters which principalists, commonly referred toas conservatives, pursue.

Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and conservative EbrahimRaisi, the main rivals in the race and both the confidants of theIslamic establishment, represented different schools of politicalthoughts.

The centrists, led by the Rouhani, are hoping not to lose theircurrent sovereignty over the conservatives.

If no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the votes, arun-off will be held on May 26 between the top two vote-getters.Enditem