Iranians are voting to elect a new president, with four candidates in fray. Opinion polls suggest Ebrahim Raisi, who heads the judiciary, is the clear favourite. Former central bank governor Abdolnasser Hemmati is his main rival.
Dissidents and some reformists have called for a boycott, saying the barring of several contenders left Mr Raisi with no serious competition. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast his vote early morning today in Tehran and encouraged people to go the polls.
Each vote counts, come and vote and choose your president, he said. This is important for the future of your country.There is widespread discontent among Iranians at the economic hardship they have faced since the US abandoned a nuclear deal with Iran three years ago and reinstated crippling sanctions.
Mr Rouhani, a moderate who sought to engage with the West, cannot stand for re-election because he has served two consecutive four-year terms. Almost 600 hopefuls, including 40 women, registered for the election.
But in the end only seven men were approved last month by the 12 jurists and theologians of the Guardian Council, an unelected body that has the ultimate decision with regard to candidates’ qualifications.
Three of the approved candidates Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili, MP Alireza Zakani, and reformist former Vice-President Mohsen Mehralizadeh had dropped out yesterday. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in the first round there will be a run-off election.