London- An atmosphere of caution prevails in Iran after voters headed to the polls on Friday to elect their 12th president amid a tight fight between incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and his main challenger Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and former prosecutor-general.
During more than 10 hours, Iranians cast their votes at some 63,500 polling stations inside the country.
Speaking in a televised interview on Friday night, Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli called on people to ignore the rumors and unverified figures about the outcome of election before the official results of the presidential race are officially announced on Saturday.
For his part, Farhad Tajarri, the spokesman for the central committee tasked with monitoring the elections, said around 20 million people have cast their votes in the country’s twin elections before the voting operation was extended two more hours.
Also, Iranian regime’s Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi called on media outlets to avoid spreading false information about the elections and not to speculate on the results.
Meanwhile, Iranians awaited on Saturday to uncover the identity of the winner, expected to either be the pragmatic Rouhani or the hardliner Raisi.
Four eligible candidates ran in Friday’s elections: two conservatives, Raisi and Mostafa Mirsalim, in addition to two moderates, Rouhani and Mostafa Hashemitaba.
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.
If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes, a run-off will be held next week.
In addition to the presidential election, Iranian voters also participated in the Village Councils Elections, which started simultaneously at 08:00 am local time.
On Friday, Iran did not allow foreign journalists and international monitors to enter its territories to monitor the presidential polls.
However, government agencies said that the authorities allowed some foreign media outlets to cover the elections by only being present in specific locations.