Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani has defeated his opponents in Iran's presidential election held earlier on Friday, according to the country's state television. The victory gives the 68-year-old cleric a second four-year term following his victory in the 2013 elections.
According to reports, the latest numbers released by the Interior ministry showed the president leading the race with 59 per cent votes with 38.9 million votes counted. The deputy Interior minister of the country had earlier said that more than 40 million voters had taken part in the elections which put the voter turnout at 70 per cent.
Rouhani, who is seen by many as a moderate but pragmatist leader, had promised reforms during his first elections and continued to do so during this election campaign, but faced tough competition from the conservative and hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, as his main rival who has secured 15.5 million votes. The other two candidates in the fray, Mostafa Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemitaba, secured 455,000 and 210,000 votes respectively.
Raisi is considered a protege of supreme leader Ali Khamenei and according to reports had the backing of the influential Revolutionary Guards security force. The campaigning during the current elections saw unprecedented television debates where both the front runners were seen accusing each other of corruption and brutality.
Rouhani was targetted by his opponents, especially Raisi, who had promised more welfare benefits and jobs, of mismanaging the economy and his more pro-reformist critics had accused him of not moving fast enough on reforms, as he had won his previous election on the promises to do so.
The victory gives a clear mandate to Rouhani, who began his first term with the tensions, between Iran and the western world, mainly US and its close ally Israel, at an alarming high after he took over from hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with Iran's nuclear program being the main source of such issues, along with its human right records of the country.
He has been credited with bringing back reasonable calm since taking over after he struck a deal with the western countries two years ago to curb the country's nuclear programme in return for lifting of many damaging economic sanctions that had been imposed on it.