Iran's state news agency says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has won re-election as Iran's president, but a reformist rival also is claiming victory.
The country's top election official says Mr. Ahmadinejad has won 69 percent of the vote with 19 percent of the ballots counted from Friday's election. Preliminary results were originally expected on Saturday. Mr. Ahmadinejad's top challenger, former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, claimed victory late Friday at a news conference in Tehran. He also said there were problems with the voting process because of a shortage of ballots in some areas.
Iran's election Friday appeared to be a tight race between Mr. Ahmadinejad, the conservative incumbent, and Mr. Mousavi, the leading reformist candidate.Iranians lined up to vote in massive numbers, and officials extended voting hours to accommodate long lines. Large crowds were still waiting outside many polling stations at closing time (10 p.m. local time). Officials said anyone already in line would be allowed to vote.
Election commission chief Kamran Daneshjou said turnout was "unprecedented." Officials predicted a turnout of 70 percent or more of Iran's 46 million eligible voters. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast his ballot early Friday and urged voters to do the same. He called on Iranians to remain calm and thwart any attempt to create "tension" at the polls.
President Ahmadinejad also voted Friday, promising a bright and progressive future for Iran.Reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi and conservative former Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsen Rezaei also were competing in the the poll, in which Iran's economy, nuclear program and foreign relations were said to play a key role.President Ahmadinejad's main challenger, Mr. Mousavi, urged election officials to comply with the law Friday, after some of his representatives were reported to have been blocked from entering polling stations to monitor the voting.
Mr. Ahmadinejad's rivals have accused him of badly mismanaging the economy and tarnishing Iran's image, further isolating the country from the West.Analysts expected a close race. If no candidate wins an outright majority, the two leading candidates will face each other in a run-off vote on June 19.