Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims victory in Iranian elections - so does Mir Hossein Mousav

June 13th, 2009 - 3:45 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran state television has announced that incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the country’s general election with early results giving him 69 percent of the vote.

With 19 percent of more than 32 million votes counted, Iran’s election commission chief Kamran Daneshjoo said President Ahmadinejad had received 3,466,548 (69.04 percent), well ahead of former Iranian PM Mir Hossein Mousav who had garnered only 28.42 percent.

Millions of Iranians turned out for the 10th presidential elections with news reports saying more than five million people had cast their votes in the first four hours of polling booths opening.

Iran’s Interior Minister Sadeq Mahsouli estimated the turnout is expected to be above 70 percent and polling booths were forced to stay open for six hours past the scheduled closing time to accommodate long lines of people waiting to vote.

Even before polling stations had closed both Ahmadinejad and his main reformist challenger, Mousav, were claiming victory.

Mousavi, who served as prime minister in the 1980s, has become the surprise hero of a powerful youth-driven movement and is counting on under-30s, who account for about a third of Iran’s eligible voters.

President Obama said Iran’s “robust debate” leading up to elections shows change is possible there, and it could boost US efforts to engage Tehran’s leadership.

In reality though the outcome will not sharply alter Iran’s main policies or sway high-level decisions, such as possible talks with Washington as those crucial policies are all directly controlled by the ruling clerics headed by the unelected Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

An official election proclamation is not expected before Saturday.

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