Iran Presidential Election: Iranians cast their votes for their new leader

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 10:22 GMT, May 19, 2017 |

Iranians voted in fiercely-contested presidential polls on Friday (May 19), standing in long lines to choose between Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent who wants normal ties with the West, and a populist challenger backed by powerful security hawks.

In a warning reflecting rising political tensions amid signs of an unexpectedly close race, Rouhani has urged Iran’s powerful elite Revolutionary Guards, believed to support his conservative opponent Ebrahim Raisi, not to meddle in the vote.

State television showed lengthy queues forming outside polling stations in several cities and said 56 million Iranians out of the more than 80-million-strong population were eligible to vote.

Rouhani, who championed the deal to lift most sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its disputed nuclear programme, is a staunch supporter of engagement with the West and liberal reforms to the economy, now dominated by state institutions.

Some 350,000 security forces were deployed around the country to protect the election, state television reported.