Iran elections: Hardline candidate takes an unassailable lead

Iran’s hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi, the conservative head of the judiciary, has taken an unassailable lead in the presidential election after 90 percent of the votes were counted, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

Raisi, 60, received more than 17.8 million out of the 28.6 million votes that have been counted, the interior ministry said, based on preliminary results.

Earlier in the day three out of four candidates in the fray conceded defeat to Raisi, a protégé of Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei who was widely seen as the frontrunner in Friday’s election marred by low turnout and the disqualification of many candidates.

Hardliner Mohsen Rezaei, a former commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, received more than 3.3 million votes.

He was followed by former central bank chief Abdolnaser Hemmati, the only moderate in the race, with at least 2.4 million votes, and conservative lawmaker Amir Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi with more than one million votes.

The new president will take office in August as Iran seeks to salvage its tattered nuclear deal with major powers and free itself from punishing US sanctions that have driven a sharp economic downturn. Iranian diplomats have been engaged in talks to revive the deal in the Austrian capital Vienna.

ALJAZEERA