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Moderate Pezeshkian wins Iran’s presidential race

DUBAI, July 5: The low-profile moderate Masoud Pezeshkian, who has pledged to open Iran to the world and deliver freedoms its people have yearned for, has won the country’s run-off presidential vote, the interior ministry said on Saturday.
“By gaining majority of the votes cast on Friday, Pezeshkian has become Iran’s next president,” it said, according to Reuters news agency.
The participation was around 50% in a tight race between Pezeshkian, the sole moderate in the original field of four candidates, and hardline former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, a staunch advocate of deepening ties with Russia and China.
The run-off on Friday followed a June 28 ballot with historically low turnout, when over 60% of Iranian voters abstained from the snap election for a successor to Ebrahim Raisi, following his death in a helicopter crash.
Videos on social media showed supporters of Pezeshkian dancing in streets in many cities and towns across the country and motorists honking car horns to cheer his victory.
People in the northwestern city of Urmia, Pezeshkian’s hometown, were handing sweets out on the streets, witnesses said.
While the election is expected to have little impact on the Islamic Republic’s policies, the president will be closely involved in selecting the successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s 85-year-old Supreme Leader, who calls all the shots on top matters of state.
Voter turnout has plunged over the past four years, which critics say underlines that support for clerical rule has eroded at a time of growing public discontent over economic hardship and curbs on political and social freedoms.
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