Saturday, June 18, 2005

Top News Article | - Iran presidency poll heads for run-off

Top News Article | "Iran presidency poll heads for run-off
Sat Jun 18, 2005 12:40 AM ET

By Paul Hughes
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's presidential vote headed for an unprecedented run-off after none of the seven candidates, including pre-election favorite Akbar Hashemi Rafasanjani, secured an outright win, officials said on Saturday.

In an unusually tight race after higher-than-expected turnout, they could not say which two candidates would contest the head-to-head vote.

"It has been a completely unpredictable election and one still cannot foresee the final result," Deputy Interior Minister Mahmoud Mirlohi told reporters.

To avoid a run-off, one of the candidates needed to obtain at least 50 percent of ballots cast.

"There will be a second round on Friday," said Gholamhossein Elham, spokesman for the Guardian Council supervisory body.

It was the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution that a presidential vote had failed to produce a first-round winner.

State radio, citing Guardian Council figures based on roughly 75 percent of votes cast, gave pragmatic cleric Rafsanjani 18.4 percent, followed by hardline conservative Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with 17.2 percent.

Reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi lay third with 15.2 percent, followed by conservative ex-police chief Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf with 12.6 percent and reformist former higher education minister on 12.3 percent.

"There's a high possibility that Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad will go through to the second round but we should wait and see," Mohammad Jahromi, a senior Guardian Council election official, told Reuters."