Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

Iran: Rouhani leads initial count; over 70 percent turnout

May 19th, 2017 by Associated Press in National International

A supporter holds a poster of Iranian presidential candidate cleric Ebrahim Raisi, the main challenger of President Hassan Rouhani, outside a polling station for the presidential and municipal councils election, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, May 19, 2017. Millions of Iranians voted late into the night Friday to decide whether incumbent President Hassan Rouhani deserves another four years in office after securing a landmark nuclear deal, or if the sluggish economy demands a new hard-line leader who could return the country to a more confrontational path with the West. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Photo by The Associated Press /Times Free Press.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran says incumbent President Hassan Rouhani is ahead of his nearest competitor in an initial count of votes in the election.

Interior Ministry deputy minister Ali Asghar Ahmadi told journalists in a televised news conference Saturday morning that over 40 million Iranians voted in Friday's election. That puts turnout above 70 percent.

Ahmadi says the initial vote count has the moderate cleric Rouhani with 14.6 million votes. Hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi has 10.1 million votes.

Ahmadi says the Interior Ministry hopes to have final results later Saturday.

The Islamic Republic's first presidential election since the 2015 nuclear accord drew surprisingly large numbers of voters to polling stations, with some reporting waiting in line for hours to cast their votes. Election officials extended voting hours at least three times.