Iran’s Khamenei hails election win as victory over ‘enemy propaganda’

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Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Saturday hailed a presidential election won by an ultraconservative as a victory for the nation over “enemy propaganda.”

“The great winner of yesterday’s elections is the Iranian nation because it has risen up once again in the face of the propaganda of the enemy’s mercenary media,” he said.

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Hoping to boost their legitimacy, the country’s clerical rulers had urged people to turn out and vote on Friday, but dissidents inside and abroad said popular anger over economic hardship and curbs on freedoms kept many Iranians at home.

Hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi was heading for a landslide win in Iran’s presidential election on Saturday, as the man he will replace pledged a smooth transition a day after millions voted in a contest that critics boycotted over economic woes and political curbs.

With some 90 percent of the 28.6 million ballots cast in a turnout of 48 percent already counted, Raisi’s tally was 17.8 million, interior ministry official Jamal Orfi told a televised news conference, giving him an unassailable lead.

Raisi, a 60-year-old Shi’ite cleric who is subject to US sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, had been widely tipped to win the contest, thanks to the endorsement of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Activists fear Raisi’s presidency could usher in more repression.

With some 28.6 million Iranians out of 59 million eligible voters participating in the election, the 48 percent turnout was slightly over what was expected by analysts.

Khamenei said that figure demonstrated public support for Iran’s establishment.

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