Iran’s ultraconservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi won the country’s presidential election on Saturday, AFP reported. Many political heavyweights were barred from contesting and reports said this was the lowest voter turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.
Officials said Raisi won 62% of the vote with about 90% of ballots counted. Three rival candidates have conceded defeat. President Hassan Rouhani, who leaves office in August, congratulated Raisi for his victory.
Raisi, 60, is a hardline cleric favored by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is under the United States sanction for alleged human rights abuses and is accused of playing a role in the mass execution of political opponents in 1988.
Many voters alleged that Friday’s election was rigged in Raisi’s favor and called for a boycott. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of those barred from running by the Guardian Council of clerics and jurists, said he does not want to have a “part in this sin”.
“Whether I vote or not, someone has already been elected,” said Saeed Zareie, a shopkeeper in Tehran. “They organise the elections for the media.”
Raisi’s election comes at a critical time as Iran and six major powers are in talks to revive their 2015 nuclear deal. In 2018, former US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal and reimposed crippling sanctions that has affected the country’s economy.