Polls open in Iran presidential election | News in the Middle East

More than 59 million eligible voters in Iran will decide the fate of four candidates in the fight to succeed President Hassan Rouhani.

Polls have opened up in Iran’s presidential election amid concerns of low turnout with the conservative head of the judiciary, Ebrahim Raisi, widely seen as the first.

Nearly 60 million eligible voters in Iran will decide the fate of four candidates in the fight to succeed President Hassan Rouhani. A panel under Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei has banned hundreds of candidates, including reformists and those aligned with Rouhani.

The polls are open at 7 a.m. local time and close at 1930 GMT but can be extended for two hours. Results are expected around noon Saturday.

With uncertainty surrounding Iran’s efforts to revive its 2015 nuclear deal and the growth of poverty at home after years of U.S. sanctions, turnout is seen by Iranian analysts as a referendum. on the management of a series of crises by leaders.

“Every vote counts … come to the polls and elect your president … this is important for the future of your country,” Khamenei said after voting in the capital, Tehran.

State television showed long lines queuing outside polling stations in several cities.

State-level opinion polls and analysts put Raisi, 60, head of the judiciary as a primary. If elected, Raisi would be the first Iranian president in service sanctioned by the U.S. government even before he took office for his participation in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, and also for his time in office. of the internationally criticized Iranian judiciary – one of the best executioners in the world.

Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in the Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad of Islam, then voted from a mosque in southern Tehran, greeting those gathered to vote.

A victory for Raisi would confirm the political death of pragmatist politicians like Rouhani, undermined by the U.S. decision to abandon the nuclear deal and replace sanctions in a move that stifled rapprochement with the West.

But it would not disturb Iran’s offer to revive the agreement and free it from harsh oil and financial sanctions, Iranian officials say, with the country’s ruling elite whose political fortune is based on tackling the worst. economic difficulties.

Former Central Bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati is running for the moderate candidate of the race but has not inspired the same support as outgoing president Hassan Rouhani, who is limited to seeking office.

Tensions remain high with both the United States and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites and assassinated the scientist who created its military nuclear program decades earlier.

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