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Iran's Hassan Rouhani leads initial count in presidential election

Iran's Hassan Rouhani leads initial count in presidential election

Iranians overseas also will vote in more than 300 locations, including 55 in the United States, where more than 1 million Iranians live.

Voters fill in their ballots while voting for the presidential and municipal councils election at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, Friday, May 19, 2017.

Ahmadi also noted that around 40 million votes have been tallied so far, whose results will be made public later.

Rouhani hit back in a sharper campaign strategy to mobilise Iranian women and young people who became jaded about the vote after losing hope in his ability to ease religious repression in society as promised in 2013, when he won by a landslide. Millions of Iranians vo.

Having been elected in a landslide four years ago on a promise to reduce the country's worldwide isolation, Rouhani negotiated a historic deal with world powers in 2015 to curb Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

So, Rouhani attracted more votes in the provinces as follows: West Azerbaijan, Alborz, Ilam, Bushehr, Sistan and Baluchestan, Qazvin, Kurdistan, Kerman, Kermanshah and Yazd. Iranian authorities said they believe the vote will exceed a 70 percent turnout. 40 million voters would then translates into a turnout of around 71 percent.

As Rouhani appeared close to victory, some female drivers held out the V for victory sign and flashed their vehicle lights on highways in Tehran's affluent north.

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The Supreme Leader has the power to veto all policies and ultimate control of the security forces.

Voting was held in 63,500 polling stations across the country, and was extended by five hours due to "requests" and the "enthusiastic participation of people".

With results from urban areas still to be counted - and seen as more likely to favour Rouhani - the initial figures pointed towards a landslide for the incumbent.

Global affairs researcher Foad Izadi, of Tehran University, said Rouhani may now have the leverage to push for more freedoms, despite opposition from the conservative-dominated judiciary and security services.

"I voted for Rouhani to prevent Raisi's victory". What matters is that he is not Raisi", government employee Yousef Ghaemi, 43, said by phone in the western city of Kermanshah.For conservatives, the election represents a chance to restore the values of the 1979 revolution, which requires elected officials to be subordinate to the Shi'ite Muslim clergy and supreme leader."I cast my vote already - I voted for Raisi because he is a follower of Imam Khamenei.

Raisi ran a populist campaign, vowing to fight corruption and fix the economy while boosting welfare payments to the poor.

Hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi has 10.1 million votes. Punters on PredictIt, a political betting website, reckon that Mr Rouhani is, indeed, the clear favourite to win, with the probability of victory above 80%.

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"Rouhani will apply his ever-increasing efforts for the dignity of Iran" in his next term, the reformist said.

Analysts expressed caution about how much Rouhani would be able to do to bring about broader reforms, despite his apparently decisive win, given the influence of security hardliners in Iran's hybrid clerical-republican system.

That hasn't stopped those at Rouhani rallies from shouting for the house-arrested leaders of the 2009's Green Movement.

The position of president is a powerful post.

Final results are expected to be announced at 14:00 local time (09:30GMT), according to election official Ali Asghar Ahmadi.

CGTN's Tony Cheng reports from Tehran.

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