Rouhani wins presidential election, numbers say

The president oversees a vast state bureaucracy employing more than 2 million people, is charged with naming Cabinet members and other officials to key posts, and plays a significant role in shaping both domestic and foreign policy.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's moderate President Hassan Rouhani trounced a hard-line challenger to secure re-election Saturday, saying his country seeks peace and friendship as it pursues a "path of coexistence and interaction with the world".

A turnout of roughly 70 percent led authorities to extend voting time by several hours until midnight.

Earlier Rouhani's chief of staff Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted that Rouhani had won 60 percent of the vote.

"The National Media (IRINN) congratulate the victory of Mr. Hassan Rouhani in the presidential election", Iranian state media channel IRINN announced in an on-screen news ticker. He is seen by many as a favorite of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, although the ayatollah has not endorsed him.

He was believed to have had the backing of the powerful Revolutionary Guards security force, as well as the tacit support of Khamenei, whose powers outrank those of the elected president but who normally steers clear of day-to-day politics.

Rouhani's closest rival, Ebrahim Raisi, has garnered more than 15.4 million, 38.55 percent, of votes tallied.

Two candidates had announced pulling out from the race: Tehran's hardline mayor, Mohammed Baqer Ghalibaf, who pledged his support for Raisi and Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a reformist supporting Rouhani.

In 2013, Rouhani won the presidential election with almost 51 percent of the vote.

The big turnout appeared to have favored Rouhani whose backers have over the past month expressed concern that low turnout would propel conservative candidates to power. He is subordinate to the country's supreme leader, who is chosen by a clerical panel and has the ultimate say over all matters of state. "I want Rouhani to carry out his promises".

Considered a moderate, many Iranians hope Rouhani will introduce reforms and improve relations internationally.

"This election boils down to a fundamental choice between two priorities", said Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Raisi has focused his campaign on the economy, visiting rural areas and villages and promising housing, jobs and more welfare benefits, a message which could have resonated with millions of poor voters angry at the Tehran elite.

The presidential candidates included President Hasan Rouhani, Custodian of the Imam Reza (AS) Holy Shrine Ebrahim Raeisi, former minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mostafa Mirsalim and former Minister of Physical Education Mostafa Hashemi Taba.

Hashemitaba was among the first to predict an outright win for Rouhani as he offered his congratulations Saturday morning.

Early vote count results indicate he has a strong lead. President Donald Trump has repeatedly described it as "one of the worst deals ever signed", although his administration re-authorized waivers from sanctions this week.

The final results will are scheduled to be declared in two hours, according to the Interior Ministry.

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