Rouhani says Iran to live in peace with world

Iranians yearning for detente overseas and greater freedoms at home have handed President Hassan Rouhani a second term, but the hardline forces he defeated in elections on Friday will remain defiantly opposed to his plans.

Rouhani secured a commanding 57 percent of the vote in a race that drew more than seven out of every 10 voters to the polls.

Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi greets his supporters during a campaign rally at Imam Khomeini Mosque in the capital Tehran on May 16, 2017. After the victory, he vowed to "remain true" to his promises being made.

68-year-old Rowhani has promised to open Iran to the world and to give its citizens more freedom. She said she spent more than three hours outside waiting to vote, "but it was worth it".

Turnout was heavy, with more than 70 percent of Iran's 56 million voters casting ballots. According to Fazli, Rouhani secured around 23.5 million votes of the 41.2 million ballots cast across the country. In recent years, the authoritarian theocrat has allowed satellite television to spread through Tehran, bringing foreign news and entertainment into Iranians' living rooms.

Hassan tweeted saying "Great people of Iran, you're the winners of the election".

Raisi was thought to be Khamenei's candidate of choice, but Rouhani handily won re-election as no sitting president has failed to win a second term in Iran since 1981.

Election officials said the extensions to voting hours were due to "requests" and the "enthusiastic participation of people".

Friday's vote was largely a referendum on Rouhani's more moderate political policies, which paved the way for the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that won Iran relief from some sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Perhaps as important, analysts say, the resounding victory should enable him to strengthen the position of the moderate and reformist faction as the country prepares for the end of the rule of the 78-year-old supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"They want to give President Rouhani another chance to see if his project of reducing tensions with some Western governments will actually work out".

Rouhani put civil liberties at the heart of his campaign, and pointedly thanked reformist former president Mohammed Khatami, who has been banned from appearing in the media since supporting mass protests in 2009, in his acceptance speech. His main challenger, hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi, received 38 percent.

But the outcome of the election could have more immediate repercussions across the Middle East. Iran backs anti-Israel factions such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and has close ties with Syria's regime, which is opposed by the U.S. and its regional allies.

  • Leroy Wright