Polls open in ‘important’ Iran presidential election

Iranians have begun 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 (0330 GMT) Friday for long lines which had already formed around the country where more than 56 million are eligible to vote.

Polls close at 18:00 (1330 GMT), but voting hours will most likely be extended as the country has seen in previous elections, amid expectations of 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 county is in the hands of the people who choose the chief executive. They should heed the importance of this task,” Ayatollah Khamanei added.