TEHRAN. – Iranians were yesterday voting in a presidential contest which pits President Hassan Rouhani against a serious challenger, Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, in what is believed to be a close race.
Some 63 500 polling stations opened at 08:00 local time (03:30 GMT) for long lines which had already formed around the country where more than 56 million are eligible to vote.
Polls were expected to close at 18:00 (13:30 GMT), but voting hours would most likely be extended as the country has seen in previous elections, amid a high turnout.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei was among the first to cast his ballot, calling on Iranians to turn out in big numbers.
Speaking after casting his vote, the Leader said, “I thank God Almighty for the blessing of democracy and people’s participation in the election. This is a great blessing.
“Praise be to God, our people are thankful for this blessing. You see they are participating and my advice is that more and more people participate and come to the polls at the earliest time possible.”
Ayatollah Khamenei described the 2017 elections as very important, saying the destiny of the country is in the hand of the masses.
“I believe a good work should be done in early hours and should not be delayed. I also believe the presidential election is very important,” the Leader said.
“The destiny of the country is in the hands of the people who choose the chief executive. They should heed the importance of this task,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.
Besides picking a president, Iranians are also voting to choose members of the country’s City and Village Councils. Meanwhile, Kaveh Afrasiabi, an author and political scientist, said the participation of millions of voters in Iran’s elections inside and abroad shows the “collective will” of Iranians to shape their own political destiny.
“These elections are very healthy, they provide an opportunity for the engagement of the citizens and the political groups, increases transparency and has a number of other dividends that shows the dynamism of today’s Iranian political society,” Afrasiabi told Press TV in an interview yesterday. – Press TV.