Khamenei slams US questions on Iran polls

2013-06-14 15:04
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered officials to stop fighting. (File, AFP)

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered officials to stop fighting. (File, AFP)

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Tehran - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemned the United States for questioning the electoral process in his country as he cast his vote in Friday's presidential election.

More than 50 million people are eligible to vote for a successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Khamenei, who was the first to cast his ballot, said: "Some American security officials have said that they do not acknowledge the election process in Iran.

"So what that they don't? Like we care, the hell with it. We don't do what they want but what is in our national interest."

Among the six candidates, four are seen as potential winners: Conservatives Ali-Akbar Velayati and Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, reformist candidate Hassan Rouhani and hardliner Saeed Jalili.

The Interior Ministry is expected to announce the results on Saturday. If necessary, a run-off vote will be held in a week.

Rouhani, aged 64, a former chief nuclear negotiator, said: "I am sure that today the people will write history and create a great political epic ... today will be the day of the people."

Turnout higher than expected

Former foreign minister Velayati, aged 67, expressed optimism and reiterated that he would fulfil all his campaign promises, which included improving ties with the West and providing free health insurance for the poor.

After casting his vote, 51-year-old war veteran Ghalibaf vowed that if he was elected he would make substantial changes and ensure a return of both justice and progress.

Hardliner Jalili, aged 47, the candidate of the country's Islamists, told reporters after voting that "upon God's will, the election results will lead to continuation of the pure Islamic way in Iran".

Witnesses said that three hours into voting, the turnout appeared to be higher than expected in Tehran. There were long queues in front of polling stations, especially in the southern and eastern neighbourhoods of the capital.

Observers had anticipated a low turnout following the fraud allegations and the violent suppression of post-election protests that marred the 2009 poll.

While polling stations were scheduled to close in the afternoon, officials were expected to extend voting time until midnight.

- SAPA

Read more on:    ali khamenei  |  iran
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