Less than five hours after polling stations opened in Iran for yesterday’s presidential election, voters had already turned out in unprecedentedly high numbers, witnesses said.
In the capital, Tehran, long queues formed even before the polling stations opened at 8am, several witnesses said.
The high participation early in the day confirmed predictions by the Iranian Interior Ministry that there would be a record turnout in this year’s presidential polls.
About 46.2 million Iranians out of a total population of 70.4 million are eligible to vote.
Mir Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezaei are the three candidates challenging Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad, who cast his vote in a mosque in south-eastern Tehran, said the huge turnout showed the voters’ willingness to continue the path of “pride, progress and prosperity.”
Moussavi and his wife, Zahra Ranhnavard, cast their votes in a mosque in southern Iran.
“This enthusiasm of the people reflects their willingness for change in Iran,” Moussavi said.
“I ask all my supporters to keep on voting, and if I am elected, I will try my best to solve the problems,” Moussavi said.
He complained that the SMS system in Tehran and some other cities had been cut since Thursday evening and that some of his representatives were not allowed to make inspections of the polling stations.
The Telecommunication Ministry had reportedly confirmed the technical problems regarding the SMS system and said efforts were under way to restore it.
Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, meanwhile, said the election would help determine the country’s future.
“In my opinion, this year’s election is one of the most important in our country’s history and will definitely have an important impact on Iran’s future role in world developments,” Rafsanjani said after casting his vote in northern Tehran.
Rafsanjani is one of the harshest critics of Ahmadinejad and backs Moussavi.
“Every single vote counts, and everybody should be aware of the important impact of his vote,” the moderate cleric said.
There are 45,713 polling stations throughout the country and 304 for Iranians abroad, including 32 in the US.
The Interior Ministry said the results would gradually be announced today.
In case none of the four candidates receives an absolute majority in the first round of voting, a run-off will be held June 19 between the two candidates with the most votes.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies