Tehran: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has secured a convincing election victory with voters backing his efforts to rebuild foreign ties, as results were announced on Saturday.
Rouhani won 22.8 million votes in Friday’s contest, compared to 15.5 million for his challenger Ebrahim Raisi, with 38.9 million votes counted, the Interior Ministry said. More votes were still to be tallied.
The election days observed a huge turnout on Friday – estimated at more than 40 million out of 56 million registered voters – led to the vote being extended by several hours to deal with long queues.
“I congratulate the great victory of the Iranian nation in creating a huge and memorable epic in the continuation of the path of wisdom and hope,” tweeted Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri.
Rouhani, a 68-year-old moderate cleric who spearheaded a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, has framed the election as a choice between greater civil liberties and extremism.
Rouhani’s central first-term achievement was a deal with six powers led by the United States that eased crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear programme.
The president gained a reprieve this week when Washington agreed to continue waiving nuclear-related sanctions, keeping the deal on track for now.
But the election comes at a tense moment in relations with the United States, with President Donald Trump still threatening to abandon the accord and visiting Iran’s bitter regional rival Saudi Arabia this weekend.