Rouhani wins Iran's presidential election

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Iran says incumbent President Hassan Rouhani is ahead of his nearest competitor in an initial count of votes in the election.

A portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen in the background.

Rouhani, long known as a cautious and mild-mannered establishment insider, reinvented himself as a bold champion of reform during the election campaign, which culminated on Friday in victory with more than 57 percent of the vote. The architect of Iran's still-fragile detente with the West, he led with 58.6 percent of the vote, compared with 39.8 percent for his main challenger, hard-line judge Ebrahim Raisi, according to near-complete results broadcast on Saturday.

What we hope - what I would hope - is that Rouhani now has a new term, and that he use that term to begin a process of dismantling Iran's network of terrorism, dismantling its financing of the terrorist network, dismantling of the manning and the logistics and everything that they provide to these destabilizing forces that exist in this region.

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Although considered a moderate by Iranian standards, Rouhani was nonetheless the favourite pick for those seeking more liberal reforms in the conservative Islamic Republic.

The council, as the high legislative body of the country, will ultimately confirm the results of Iran's presidential election.

"Heartiest congratulations to my friend, President Hassan Rouhani on his re-election", the Prime Minister tweeted. "We sent back Raisi to Mashhad", his conservative hometown in northeastern Iran, said Narges, a 43 year-old beauty salon owner, who declined to give her full name. "I think he'll make his cabinet younger and more agile", he said.

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Now, Parsi continues, Rouhani "must take decisive action to protect the human rights and civil liberties of the Iranian people, pursue improved relations with the world, and promote economic growth for the Iranian people". Some said the pattern was all too familiar from Rouhani's first victory four years ago and Khatami's victories the previous decade.

He 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.

By voting for him, the Iranians have chosen the course of interaction and "no to violence and extremism" in the world, Rouhani said in a televised speech.

The nuclear deal won Iran relief from worldwide sanctions in exchange for limits on its contested nuclear program.

His re-election was a stamp of approval for the 2015 nuclear agreement that Iran signed with six world powers under which Tehran curbed uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of global economic sanctions.

Rouhani and Zarif have presented a more conciliatory face to the world, traveling often to European capitals and in Zarif's case, conversing easily in fluent English and giving frequent interviews to Western media.

The runner-up, Ebrahim Raisi, secured 38.5% of the votes with 15,786,449 ballots, Rahmani Fazli noted, saying the two other candidates, Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemitaba, won 478,215 and 219,450 votes, respectively.