Iranians begin voting to choose new president

Presidential election in Iran started at 8 a.m. Friday

Presidential election in Iran started at 8 a.m. Friday

ANKARA - Voting in the presidential election started in Iran at 8 a.m. on Friday and polling stations will close at 6 p.m..

Around 51 million Iranians are expected to vote at the presidential election as well as local elections.

Voters will choose among 6 reformist and conservative candidates for a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who can not run for a third term.

If no candidate secures 50.1% or more of the votes to win outright on Friday, a second round will be held a week later.

Following his voting in the early hours, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, "Thanks God for granting Iranian people the right to determine their own future. Iranians will create a new legend today."

Khamenei called on all the Iranians to vote in the presidential election suggesting them to choose the early hours of the day and not to delay the responsibility.

Referring to the name for whom he voted, he said "No one, even my family and children know whom I have voted for in the election. It is people's duty to search and decide on whom to vote for. I believe our God will help the election, and the one who can provide the people with material and spiritual well-being will be chosen as the new president."

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose candidacy was rejected by Iran's Guardian Council, declared Tuesday his official support to Hassan Rowhani, the only reformist candidate running in the presidential election on Friday.

Rafsanjani evaluated on Mohammad Reza Aref's withdrawal from candidacy and said Aref's withdrawal was aimed at preventing the division of reformist votes.

Earlier this week, Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, a conservative candidate and a former parliament speaker, withdrew his candidacy from the presidential election.

"I withdrew my candidacy to help avoid the defeat of the conservative wing at the presidential elections," he explained.

The 6 candidates racing to be elected as the new president of Iran are the only reformist candidate Hasan Rowhani, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, Secretary of Iran?'s Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili, top adviser to Supreme Leader Khamenei on international affairs Ali Akbar Velayati, former chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Mohsen Rezaei, and former oil and telecommunications minister Mohammad Gharazi.

Except for the only reformist candidate Hasan Rowhani, the remaining candidates are conservatives close to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Iranians vote for new president also from Ankara

Iranians living in Turkish capital Ankara cast their ballots on Friday in the 11th presidential election of Iran to choose a successor to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Voting will continue until 6 p.m. on Friday at Iran Embassy's undersecretariat of culture for Iranians in Ankara, where Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Ali Reza Bigdeli also cast his vote.

Iranians living abroad pay great attention to the elections, Bigdeli told AA in an exclusive interview and said that in 5 cities of Turkey _ Ankara, Izmir, Erzurum, Trabzon and Istanbul _ the voting continued.

"I guess that election would go to second round because we saw that the votes for the six candidates were close to each other during the election campaigns," Bikdeli stated and said, "In 100 countries, our citizens are casting their ballots. People having different ideologies vote whereas candidates are from different ideologies. Therefore, there is a possibility that no candidate could win the majority of votes in first round."

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