Ahmadinejad headed for second term as Iran president (Lead)

June 13th, 2009 - 2:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Tehran, June 13 (IANS) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seemed set for a second term as Iran’s president as he took an insurmountable lead in the country’s presidential vote, according to preliminary results Saturday.
First results released by the interior ministry showed Ahmadinejad had 65.24 percent of votes, with 78 percent of votes counted, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Ahmadinejad’s main challenger, former prime minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi, received only 31 percent of the votes, making the path clear for the hardline leader to retain power for a second four-year term.

Although the counting has not yet finished, Ahmadinejad had already achieved an absolute majority by securing more than 18 million of the total 35 million votes, to Moussavi’s nine million.

The other two contestants, former Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Mohsen Rezaei and two-time former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi, received only 1.66 percent and 0.83 percent votes respectively.

Meanwhile, in a hastily organised press conference before the Election Commission declared results, Moussavi said he would not accept the results.

He complained of irregularities in the election, including a shortage of ballot papers and attacks on his campaign offices.

However, Ahmadinejad’s campaign manager Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi dismissed Mousavi’s remarks.

“According to the votes counted so far, the distance between Ahmadinejad and his rivals is so great that any doubts cast on this victory will be treated as a joke by the public,” he was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, a spokesman for the Guardian Council, said the voter turnout for the election was about 82 percent.

The unexpected high turnout forced authorities to print ballot papers again and extend the voting time twice from scheduled closing time of 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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