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Hardline judge wins Iran election with landslide

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Hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi secured a landslide win in Iran's presidential election on Saturday (June 19).

With some 90% of votes counted, Raisi tally was 17.8 million votes out of 28.6 million ballots cast, interior ministry official Jamal Orfi told a televised news conference.

That gives him an unassailable lead.

Outgoing President Hassan Rouhani visited Raisi at his offices to congratulate him and said he has a "heavy responsibility".

"I have no doubt that the people will support his legitimate government so that their interests can be best implemented and operationalized."

Raisi, a 60-year-old Shi'ite cleric, was widely tipped to win having been endorsed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But dissidents at home and abroad say popular anger over economic hardships and curbs on freedoms kept many Iranians at home.

Turnout was reported to be 48%, slightly higher than analysts had predicted but lower than the 73.3% in 2017.

Another deterrent for pro-reform voters was a lack of choice.

That's after the Guardian Council, a hardline election body, barred heavyweight moderates and conservatives from standing.

A U.S. state department spokesperson on Friday (June 18) said Iranians had been denied their right to choose their own leaders in a free and fair election.

Raisi was placed under U.S. sanctions a few months after being appointed judiciary chief in 2019.

That was for alleged human rights violations including the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1980s.

Iran has never acknowledged the mass executions and Raisi has never addressed allegations about his role.

The election also comes at a critical time.

Iran and six major powers are in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear deal.

Raisi offered no detailed political or economic program during his election campaign, but has backed the revival of the nuclear pact a development that would bring an easing of U.S. sanctions that have crushed Iran's economy.

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