Khamenei calls for high voting in Iranian presidential poll

Tehran, June 14 (IANS) Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for a high turnout as over 60,000 polling stations opened across the country Friday for the 11th presidential elections, RIA Novosti reported.

The vote is due to end at 6.00 p.m (1.30 p.m. GMT). About 50.5 million of Iran's population of some 75 million are eligible to vote, including more than 1.6 million first-time voters. There are six candidates in the fray, of whom only one is a moderate.

As Khamenei cast his vote, he urged the Iranians to actively participate in the election, saying that their participation would "determine the fate of the country", Xinhua reported.

The enemies intended to "discourage the Iranian people" so that "they would not attend the polling stations," said the leader, emphasising that "the Iranians disregard of the enemies' attempts follow their own expedience".

According to Iranian media forecasts, the turnout is expected to surpass 60 percent, but will remain about 25 percent less than the 2009 polls.

Iranian citizens living abroad will be able to cast their ballots at 290 polling stations in 96 countries.

A runoff will be held June 21 if none of the candidates gathers more than 50 percent of the vote. Recent opinion polls indicate that the runoff is likely.

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said Thursday his ministry, charged with security and organising issues, was absolutely prepared for the polls.


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