Iran Set to Elect President

Iran Set to Elect President
Iran Set to Elect President

Iranians are set to cast their ballots in Friday’s presidential election that decides the successor to outgoing President Hassan Rouhani after his maximum two terms in office.
Over 59 million Iranians are eligible to participate in the 2021 presidential poll, some 1.392 million of whom are first-time voters, IRNA reported.
The Guardian Council, the country’s top vetting body, approved the qualifications of seven candidates out of the over 500 who had filed nomination.
The council found five principlists, one reformist and one independent candidate qualified to run in the 2021 race: Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi, former governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Abdolnasser Hemmati, secretary of the Expediency Council Mohsen Rezaei, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, lawmaker Alireza Zakani, the parliament’s first deputy speaker Amir Hossein Qazizadeh Hashemi and former vice president Mohsen Mehralizadeh. 
On late Tuesday, reformist Mehralizadeh dropped out of the race in favor of moderate candidate Hemmati, one of the two main contenders of the decisive election. 
On Wednesday, Zakani, a figure in the principlist political faction, also withdrew his candidacy in favor of Raeisi, the other candidate likely to win the race.
That leaves five hopefuls in the presidential race.
Many senior political figures have encouraged the public to go to polling stations on Friday despite economic woes and widespread unemployment triggered by unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States.
President Hassan Rouhani in a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday called on the public to turn out in large numbers in the 13th presidential election.
“The public have done great over the past eight years and the 3.5 years of economic warfare,” the top official said. “It is expected of them to do another great deed on Election Day.”
He added, “Abstaining from voting will not solve any problem … whatever issues there are, voting is the way to resolve it, there is no other option.”
In his concluding remarks, the president stated that he is confident his government can bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control and put an end to US sanctions before leaving office.



Pandemic Concerns 

The Interior Ministry will strictly abide by health protocols devised by the National Coronavirus Headquarters to ensure the safety of millions of voters.
To prevent crowding and adhere to social distancing, the ministry has extended voting hours by three. While previous elections would begin at 8 a.m. local time with the possibility of extension until midnight, the 2021 poll will start at 7 a.m. and voting can continue until two hours past midnight. 
Over 1.5 million polling staff are ready to cooperate with representatives from the Red Crescent Society to strictly follow safety measures, according to spokesman for the Election Headquarters, Esmaeil Mousavi.
Authorities will also lift the nighttime curfew imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak on Friday and Saturday. After months of restricting movement from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., the removal of the curfew allows the public to cast their votes and the polling staff to freely move around cities and transport ballot boxes.
All polling stations are set to be disinfected ahead of Election Day to alleviate public concern as they prepare to participate in as many as four elections on the same day. 
In addition to the presidential election, city and village council elections will be held across the country. Midterm Assembly of Experts elections are scheduled to take place in four provinces and six provinces will elect representatives for vacant seats in the parliament.
Results of the presidential election are expected to be announced to the public as early as Saturday noon. 

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