Tehran, Jun 18 (Agency) Iranian voters went to the polls on Friday in a presidential election in which ultra conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi is seen to coast to victory over his vetted rivals. Nearly 60 million eligible voters can cast their ballots between 7:00 a.m. (0230 GMT) and midnight (1930 GMT). The voting can be extended by two hours, depending on the turnout. The results expected around noon on Saturday. Saying that every single vote matters, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asked people to vote in large numbers. “You should participate and do this with a pure, divine intention. I advise you to do this important task at the earliest possible,” he said after casting his vote, reports IRNA.
The winner will assume office in August as Iran’s eighth president from incumbent Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who has served the maximum of two consecutive four-year-terms allowed under the constitution. The candidate reported to come out as victor is a Shiite clergy Raisi, who was appointed by Khamenei as head of judiciary in 2019. He has said he backs Iran’s talks with the US and other powers to revive the nuclear deal. Raisi’s main rival is a pragmatist technocrat, former central bank governor Abdolnaser Hemmati, who says a win for any hardliner will result in yet more sanctions imposed by outside powers.