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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wins re-election

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has won re-election, the Interior minister said on Saturday.

Rouhani defeated his conservative challenger Ebrahim Raisi on Friday in a victory for the reformist camp in the predominantly Shiite nation.

Rouhani won 57% of the vote, or 23,549, 616 votes, said Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli.

“The National Media (IRINN) congratulate the victory of Mr. Hassan Rouhani in the presidential election,” Iranian state media channel IRINN announced in an on-screen news ticker.

Rouhani, a moderate, was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States, the European Union and other partners and his first term was marked by an emergent international engagement.

More than 40 million Iranian voters flocked to polling stations Friday, and by Saturday morning more than 25 million votes had been counted, according to the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry State Elections Committee.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was among the first to cast his ballot and urged others to do the same.

Raisi is widely seen as Khamenei’s preferred candidate — indeed, he is often mentioned as his possible successor.

“I believe that the presidential election is very important. The fate of the country is in the hands of people,” he said.

But Rouhani hashistory and hope on his side.

No sitting President has failed to win a second term since 1981 and Rouhani’s engagement with the outside world, without the types of banking and visa restrictions, as well as economic sanctions resonated with voters who have disliked the country’s isolation.

The nuclear deal

The nuclear deal has been controversial in both the United States and Iran and debates in Iran have focused on this issue.

Rouhani has had a tough time defending the 2015 nuclear deal and his opponents have accused him of not making good on his promises.

Hei billed the deal as one that would thrust open the gates of economic opportunity, bring the country out of its isolation and create millions of jobs for Iranians.

The agreement has brought a string of billion dollar deals with Western firms for airplanes and oil exploration in Iran.

But the benefits have been largely limited by a fall in global oil prices and US President Donald Trump’s election, which introduced uncertainty for investors.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to rip up the deal.

For the average Iranian, the results have been lackluster, and Raisi has jumped upon this accusing Rouhani of sacrificing Iran’s sovereignty for a fool’s bargain.

The election comes as Trump visits Saudi Arabia, the heart of the Sunni branch of Islam.
The Saudis and other Gulf states hope Trump will take a harder line on Iran than his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Tensions have long festered between Sunnis and Shiites, particularly in Iraq, where Sunnis are a minority, and Syria, where the Gulf states and Iran have backed different sides in the civil war there.

Another campaign issue had been unemployment. Joblessness remains high — although it fell during Rouhani’s first term — and growth is middling.

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