Iran's Leader Casts Vote, Calls on Nation to Stage Large Turnout
TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei cast his vote in “the 13th presidential election,” “6th elections for the Islamic city and village councils,” “midterm elections for the 5th Assembly of Experts” and “midterm elections for the 11th Islamic Consultative Assembly” early Friday morning.
In the voting ceremony, Ayatollah Khamenei urged the Iranians to actively take part in the election, saying, "Election day is the day of the Iranian nation; today they are the main director. It is people who, by going to the polls and voting, determine the general and fundamental task of the country for the coming years."
"The reason that we repeatedly invite people to participate in elections is that the first effect of this presence is reflected on the people themselves; of course, with this presence, the country and the Islamic Republic will also achieve great advantages in the international arena," he added.
In his earlier message, Ayatollah Khamenei had blasted the western media and enemies for their efforts aimed at undermining and weakening Iran, and stressed that people's participation in the presidential elections on Friday will secure the country against foreign plots.
The Supreme Leader's remarks came in televised speech on Wednesday before the 2021 presidential and city council elections in Iran.
Ayatollah Khamenei underlined in his speech that the destiny of the country depends on people's votes in elections.
"All the satanic powers and power centers that have opposed Iran's Islamic Revolution over the past decades have sought to tarnish people's minds and have sought to interfere in Iran’s elections," the Supreme Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei, however, pointed out that all the lections have taken place on time and there has not been a single day of delay in holding elections.
The Supreme Leader strongly blasted the western media for trying to question the upcoming elections in Iran.
"The people's participation will give more prestige to the Islamic Republic establishment," he added.
Ayatollah Khamenei underlined that the most important point is that elections show that the Islamic Republic enjoys support of the people and there is no power superior to people’s power.
The Supreme Leader pointed out that the people's participation will disappoint enemies once again, and said, "An action that disappoints enemies is considered a good deed."
"The people's participation in election strengthens country in international arena. If we have less participation in election, there will be more pressures by enemies," he underlined.
Ayatollah Khamenei, meantime, pointed to the Iranian nation's achievements despite being under sanctions, and said that the young Iranian scientists have managed to develop and produce vaccines despite difficulties imposed on the country.
The Supreme Leader also pointed to the London-based Persian language TV channels which are financed by some Arab rulers, and said that “the irony is some countries that are ruled by tribes in the middle of the 21st century and they have had no experience of elections at all while their people do not distinguish ballot boxes from fruit boxes, they have established media to target Iran's elections".
Iranians began voting in the early hours of Friday in a contest among 4 candidates in the 13th presidential elections and also for the 6th Islamic city and village council elections across the country.
State television showed people's presence at polling stations in several cities and towns, quoting officials that over 59 million Iranians out of the more than 85 million population are eligible to vote.
Polls close in at 12:00 midnight although the interior ministry has been allowed to extend voting hours until 2:00 am on Saturday to prevent overcrowding due to high turnout. Ballot counting will start at midnight and preliminary results are expected within 24 hours of polls closing. The elections are also for city and village councils.
For Iranians, the most pressing domestic issue is the economy. In addition, COVID-19 is still a serious problem for Iran.
More than a third of Iran’s 85 million population is under age 30. Women comprise more than half the population.
In addition to presidential elections, people are going to the polls to participate in the 6th Islamic city and village council elections across the country as well as midterm Assembly of Experts elections in 4 provinces, including Tehran, Khorassan Razavi, Qom and Mazandaran, and midterm parliament elections in several provinces, including Tehran, East Azerbaijan, Gilan, Markazi, Kohgilouyeh and Boyer Ahmad and Hamedan.
Commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Police Brigadier General Hossein Ashtari said that over 600,000 police forces will be deployed in the country’s cities and towns to protect security of the presidential elections.
The Iranian interior ministry on May 25 declared the names of 7 hopefuls qualified by Iran’s vetting body, the Guardian Council, to run in the presidential race.
The 7 approved candidates included Iran’s Judiciary Chief Seyed Ebrahim Rayeesi, Secretary of Iran's Expediency Council and former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezayee, Iranian reformist politician and former Governor of Isfahan Province Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh, former secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Saeed Jalili, Iranian Member of the Parliament Alireza Zakani, Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Abdolnasser Hemmati and Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Seyed Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi.
The disapproved candidates had the opportunity to protest at their disqualification vote and the qualified candidates could start their campaign as of May 25 until 24 hours before elections.
Several candidates, including former Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan and former Oil Minister Rostam Qassemi, dropped out of the race in Rayeesi’s favor before the Guardian Council declared its decision on their qualification.
In the past few days, Alireza Zakani and Saeed Jalili announced their pullout from the Friday presidential election in favor of Ebrahim Rayeesi, while Mohsen Mehr Alizadeh declared his withdrawal in support of the main reformist-moderate camp nominee Abdolnasser Hemmati.
Rayeesi appears to be the front-runner among four candidates running for president in Iran, according to the polls.