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Millions of Iranians across the country took to polling stations on Friday, June 14, 2013, to vote in country’s 11th Presidential elections. The expected turnout for Friday election was 50.5 million, including more than 1.6 million who voted for the very first-time. With a 70% turnout of voters, the Interior Ministry extended the voting deadline by further five hours. The polling stations closed at 11:00pm of local time. All six presidential candidates Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Dr Saeed Jalili, Tehran Mayor Dr Mohammed Bagher Qalibaf, former Foreign Minister Dr Ali Akbar Velayati, President of the Expediency Council’s Center for Strategic Research Hassan Rohani, Secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei and former Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Gharazi cast their votes earlier in the day and encouraged the higher voter turnout.
The incumbent President Ahmadijinidad alongside Vice-President Mohammed Reza Rahimi also cast their votes earlier in the day in Iran’s capital Tehran. Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei leader of the Islamic Revolution also went to polling station to cast his ballot and encouraged Iranians to do the same. Ayatollah Khamenei stated to the public “the dear Iranian people should enter the scene of elections with fervor and motivation, and [they should] know that the destiny of the country and prosperity of the nation depend on their presence and the choice they make”. The ballot counting began soon after the polling stations closed and Iran announced its new President on June 15. Hassan Rohani has become Iran’s 11th President. He thanked voters for their huge turnout.
According to Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar that of a total of 36,704,156 ballots were counted, Rohani was ahead in polls and scored 50.70 percent of the ballots with 18,613,329 votes. Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf came second with 6,077,292 votes while Saeed Jalili secured 4,168,946 votes and 3,884,412 votes went to Mohsen Rezaei. Ali-Akbar Velayati won 2,268,753 votes and Mohammad Gharazi ranked at the bottom of the voting table with 446,015 votes.
As soon as the election results were announced, congratulations from across the country started to pour in for Rohani. The incumbent President Ahmadijindad and Rohani’s rivals, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Mohsen Rezaei and Saeed Jalili all congratulated him on his victory.
In his first televised address to the nation, Rohani asked Iranians for assistance and cooperation, “[I'm proud that] the great people [of Iran], the honourable people, thought that I deserve this.”
International community also congratulated Rohani on his victory. The White House released a statement: “We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard.”
Russian President Valdmir Putin extended his congratulations to Rohani and called for closer bilateral ties between the two countries. Kuwait’s Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also congratulated Rohani for his landslide victory in the Presidential elections. The UN general secretary too extended his congratulations to new Iranian President.
In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cautioned world community against lessening sanctions on Iran and has called for tougher sanctions to be enforced on the regime. Netanyahu said “international community must not get caught in wishful thinking and ease the pressure on Tehran saying Iran will be tested by its deeds.”
As one of the most desolated countries in the world, Iran is known in international politics for its defiant streak, its uncompromising stance on its nuclear program and its war of words with the West. The country’s famed ascent to scoring the most sanctions in previous decade holds a remarkable record of its own. The number of sanctions over the years has barred Iran from dealing with US financial institutions and has had an impact on the country’s oil sales and overall economy.
The current elections have marked an end to the eight year old rule of President Ahmadijinad, who is renowned for his rhetoric at the United Nations and for singling out the United States as an enemy.
Iran is one of America’s potential rivals in Middle East. Ranking fifth in oil reserves and second in gas reserves in the world, Iran is an important base of energy resources. Iran holds 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and has the world’s second largest reserve of natural gas. Moreover, Iran also manufactures 50-80% of its industrial equipments domestically, including oil rigs, oil tankers, exploration instruments, and offshore platforms. Strategic concerns have always dominated The US-Iran relationship, and this continues to be so today. Prior to the Iranian elections, a war of words ensued between the two arch rivals. US Secretary of State John Kerry raised questions about the credibility of the election on May 24. Iran saw this as an attempt by the US to delegitimize the Iranian elections. Israel has also dismissed the validity of Iran’s elections. Yigal Palmor said in a statement “The President elect in Iran had been shortlisted by the Ayatollah Khamenei, who has disqualified and removed candidates who did not conform to his extremist views.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini condemned US for its criticism on the fairness of Iranian elections. “I recently heard that someone at the U.S. National Security Council said ‘we do not accept this election in Iran’,” he said. “We don’t give a damn.”
The desire to reform Iran politically, socially and economically is embodied in the Iranian mindset today, however. This was proven by the large turnout of voters across the country on June 14. Rohani’s election campaign evolved around lessening Iran’s tensions with the West, ending international sanctions, allowing freedom of the press and relaxing laws on public behaviours. Indeed, Rohani’s election victory inspires new hope for Iran and could pave a way for better relations with West and the Gulf Countries.
Image credit: Press TV