Iranians go to the polls

Reformists and conservatives head to the polls for municipal and assembly elections.

    Voters in Iran will choose between about
    233,000 candidates in municipal elections

    Iran's reform movement was defeated in municipal elections in 2003, and later in parliamentary and presidential elections, by Ahmadinejad and his conservative allies.
     
    Friday's elections are expected to show to what extend the reformists have regained popularity.
     
    Voter turnout during the 2003 polls was the lowest recorded election participation in the Islamic republic's history.
     
    There are about 46.5 million eligible voters in Iran and they will choose between approximately 233,000 candidates for more than 113,000 city and rural council posts.
     
    While the reformists hold no seats on the Tehran City council, the conservatives are split between supporters of Ahmadinejad and his rival Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, now the mayor of Tehran.
     
    In the Assembly of Experts election, the race is seen to be between Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a cleric and former president, and Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, a theologian regarded by many as Ahmadinejad's mentor.
     
    The Assembly of Experts is an 86-member council mandated to appoint and supervise Iran's supreme leader.
     
    Despite its powers, the assembly has traditionally kept a low profile and its members are not known to have challenged Khamenei's actions.
     
    Polling stations open at 9am (05:30 GMT) but results are not expected until late on Sunday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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