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Iran expects 'record' turnout for presidential vote

Iran expects a record number of voters to cast their ballots in this week's presidential election, the head of the country's electoral committee said today.

world Updated: Jun 09, 2009 18:41 IST

Iran expects a record number of voters to cast their ballots in this week's presidential election, the head of the country's electoral committee said on Monday.

"Definitely, the election... will witness a record-breaking turnout," Kamran Daneshjoo told reporters ahead of Friday's vote.

Daneshjoo said the interior ministry, which is in charge of organising the election, is putting in place a strategy to ensure 'maximum participation' from the 46.2 million eligible voters.

"Iranian people have shown their support of the revolution in different rallies, but on election day we will see the actual number of people who back their revolution," he said.

He predicted turnout would be high "despite the propaganda of the arrogant nations (Western powers) who are undermining the election."

Four candidates are in the race for the presidency, including incumbent hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second four-year term.

He faces a stiff challenge from moderate ex-premier Mir Hossein Mousavi who has emerged as his main rival.

The other two candidates are reformist former parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi and the conservative former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezai.

Daneshjoo gave no figure for the number of polling stations but said a total of 45,713 ballot boxes would be used for the vote, of which 14,258 would be in mobile polling stations to facilitate voting in places like hospitals and remote villages.

Polls will open at 8:00 am (0330 GMT) and close 10 hours later, unless turnout is exceptionally high and provincial governors secure ministry approval for an extension of voting hours.

"But the voting has to end at midnight as it is a one-day election," Daneshjoo said.

If a clear winner does not emerge on June 12, the election will go to a second-round runoff on June 19.

To win outright in the first round, a candidate must secure 50 per cent of the votes cast plus one vote.

In his upset victory in 2005, Ahmadinejad defeated heavyweight former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the runoff after trailing him in the first round.