Iran extends voting time in hotly contested election (Second Lead)June 13th, 2009 - 1:11 am ICT by IANS
Tehran, June 12 (IANS) Authorities in Iran extended the polling period for the second time Friday as the country witnessed an unprecedented turnout in its closely fought presidential election.
To accommodate the huge number of voters qued up at polling stations in various places across the country, the interior ministry announced that the polling time has been extended to 10 p.m. (17:30 GMT), the Press TV reported.
Earlier, the ministry announced a two-hour extention of balloting which was scheduled to close at 6 p.m. (15:30 GMT). But the massive turnout forced the ministry for another extension, the report said, adding that the maximum time limit would be midnight.
Tens of millions of Iranians crowded polling stations to vote in the election in which the incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seeks a second term in office while facing a strong challenge from former prime minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi.
Two-time former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei are also battling for office in the crucial election.
Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli said the turnout would be above 70 percent - a new record for the Islamic country.
Kamran Daneshjoo, the head of the country’s electoral committee, earlier promised to put in place a strategy to ensure “maximum participation” from the 46.2 million eligible - aged 18 and above - voters.
In case none of the four candidates receives an absolute majority in the first round of voting, a run-off would be held June 19 between the two candidates with the most votes.
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