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emfizz.com May 23, 2017


Long Queues Form As Voting Gets Underway For Iran President

19 May 2017, 11:00 | Bernard Bryant

Long Queues Form As Voting Gets Underway For Iran President

Iranian President and candidate in the upcoming presidential elections Hassan Rouhani speaks during a campaign rally in the northwestern city of Ardabil

Trump and the Saudis - with their 31-year-old defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, taking a harsh lead - have outlined an uncompromising, confrontational attitude toward Iran. Iran's president is subordinate but still powerful, with considerable influence over both domestic policy and foreign affairs.

Rouhani ran on his record of pressing for greater personal freedoms at home and openness to the outside world, particularly his administration's completion of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that won Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

An initial field of over 1,600 hopefuls registered to run in the election.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Farhad Tajarri, the spokesman for the central committee tasked with monitoring city and village councils elections, described the turnout as "huge". Several said they were voting for Rouhani, praising his work on the nuclear energy deal and for earning the country more worldwide respect.

A second presidential term for Rouhani could ease the way for Iran to push ahead with planned gas pipeline links to Iraq, Oman, Kuwait and Pakistan, and even to fill an existing undersea pipeline to the UAE, which has sat empty for more than a decade.

But many Iranians are frustrated they haven't seen the benefits of the deal in terms of improved living standards.

"Everyone should vote in this important election. vote at early hours", Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said after casting his ballot in the capital, Tehran.

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Raisi has pushed his charitable credentials as head of the powerful Imam Reza foundation and vowed more support for the poor. Rouhani promised in his 2013 campaign to free the men, but that pledge so far remains unfulfilled. Meanwhile, Raisi has promised to triple cash handouts to the poor, hoping to pick up voters who once supported Rouhani's populist predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He was involved in the 1988 massacre which resulted in the death of more than 30,000 political prisoners.

Surprisingly, Islam. "Candidates have seemingly concluded that Islamic ideology has lost its power as a driving factor among voters and is therefore not worth addressing", wrote Mehdi Khalaji, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who is Shiite theologian by training. According to ABC news Rouhani faced staunch challenge from Raisi over his outreach to the West in the nuclear deal.

Before Rouhani's election four years ago, Iran felt like a country that had been attacked and left in ruins, and it was left to the new president to rebuild, he said.

Apart from all of this, in a major protest launched by the Kurdish women and minority rights activists on social networking platform, they have requested the Kurds to refrain from voting and instead leave the town on the day of polls. A voter must show their national ID card and fill out a form. The voter then writes down the name and the numerical code of the candidate they want to elect on the secret ballot and drop it into a ballot box.

First Vice President Es'hagh Jahangiri also participated in Hosseinieh Ershad with his wife and cast his vote. Iran bars domestic and worldwide observers from the elections, bucking a widely accepted principle around the world that global watchdogs warn can allow for fraud. This latter point is noteworthy because while Iran's Guardian Council technically certifies election results, it only does so after receiving Khamenei's blessing.

Since the signing of the JCPOA, Iran has been able to more than double its supply of oil to the market so fears that the deal could be vulnerable post-election has some fearing for Iran's ongoing ability to supply at this higher output level.

Even before becoming President of the Islamic Republic, Rouhani's previous career is also as far away from moderate as is possible. "They should heed the importance of this task", Ayatollah Khamenei added.



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