Rouhani re-elected as Iran's 12th President with thumping majority

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won re-election by a comfortable margin over his main arch-conservative challenger, buoyed by high voter turnout, according to official results.

While the president's powers are curtailed by those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who outranks him, the scale of the victory boosts his pro-reform camp.

Of the 41 million votes cast, the Interior Ministry said, Rouhani won 23 million (or 57 percent), soundly defeating his chief opponent, Ebrahim Raisi, who received 15.7 million (38.5 percent).

"Our elections indicated to the neighbors and the region that the way to restore security to the region is to shore up democracy and honor the people's votes rather than to rely on foreign powers", Rouhani added.

"We hope that if Rouhani wanted to change Iran's relationship with the rest of the world, those are the things he could do", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was accompanying President Donald Trump.

Trump arrived on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, his first stop on the first trip overseas of his presidency.

Still, the prospect of victory by Raisi, who was one of four judges in the 1980s that approved the death sentences of thousands of political prisoners, was enough to drive even doubtful Iranians out to vote for Rouhani in force.

Rouhani also stated that the Iranian people had chosen their future path after understudying different views, stressing that everybody must respect people's demand and decision.

Iran "is not ready to accept humiliation and threat", he continued.

Although there was widespread fear of voter apathy before the election, polling stations were forced to stay open late as many lined up to vote late into the night.

Though economic progress remains the centerpiece of Rouhani's policy platform, he also took a stronger stance on political and social change during this year's campaign.

The nuclear deal won Iran relief from global sanctions in exchange for limits on its contested nuclear program.

The election is seen as a verdict on President Rouhani's policy of opening Iran up to the world and his efforts to revive the economy.

Rouhani and Zarif have presented a more conciliatory face to the world, traveling often to European capitals and in Zarif's case, conversing easily in fluent English and giving frequent interviews to Western media.

Friday's vote in Iran was the revenge of the moderates.

Rouhani, a moderate, was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

In 2013, Rouhani won the presidential election with nearly 51 percent of the vote.

Worldwide affairs researcher Foad Izadi, of Tehran University, said Rouhani may now have the leverage to push for more freedoms, including the release of opposition leaders under house arrest for their part in the 2009 protests.

  • Leroy Wright