Hassan Rouhani wins Iran presidential election

Mr Rouhani built his resounding win in Friday's presidential election by promising more economic opportunities for Iran's youth, as well as social justice, individual freedoms and political tolerance.

Iran's incumbent president Hassan Rouhani has a commanding 58% lead over his rivals in an initial and partial count of votes in the election, according to official figures announced on Saturday morning.

In a live speech carried by State TV, Rouhani said Saturday that the vote showed Iran's willingness to work with the global community, and a rejection of hardliners, according to the AP. Turnout was unprecedented - almost 41 million people voted, or 73.5% of the eligible voters. He was elected as president for his first term in 2013. Iran has 56.4 million eligible voters. Despite stern warnings and criticism from the powerful clerics, he was able to clinch a nuclear deal for Iran.

In his first televised message after the victory, President Rouhani praised Iranians who, in his words, had said No to returning to the past.

Some youngsters wore wristbands in violet, the colour of Rouhani's campaign.

Many fear his second term could mirror that of reformist president Mohammad Khatami in the early 2000s, when every attempt at reform was frustrated by the hardline establishment.

He took an apparent dig at regional rival Saudi Arabia, which is now hosting US President Donald Trump.

France also stressed the need to seek a diplomatic solution to the conflicts in the Middle East and called on Iran to adopt this approach. President Donald Trump has repeatedly described it as "one of the worst deals ever signed", although his administration re-authorized waivers from sanctions this week.

The implicit hope of the Obama administration in signing the nuclear deal was that by the time the 15-year restrictions were lifted reformers would prevail and Iran would be a more normal worldwide actor.

Rouhani has had a tough time defending the agreement, and his opponents have accused him of not making good on his promises.

The Tehran Stock Exchange rallied after the election results came out, extending a recent winning streak to close nearly 1 percent higher at its highest level in three months.

STEWART: Was it the young people who made the difference?

"What I would hope, is that Rouhani. use that (new) term to begin a process of dismantling Iran's network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of the terrorist network, dismantling the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilising forces that exist in this region", Tillerson said in Riyadh.

Rouhani's re-election is likely to make it harder for the Trump administration to galvanise worldwide support for European Union, UN sanctions or other tough action, analysts said. And now, it's to Mr. Rouhani in the next four years to deliver some of those benefits.

The biggest prize for Rouhani's supporters is the potential to set Iran's course for decades by influencing the choice of a successor to Khamenei, who has been in power since 1989.

But with hardliners firmly in control of the Assembly of Experts that will choose the next leader, Rouhani and his allies have little influence over the succession.

  • Leroy Wright