Middle East News
Record turnout likely in Iran presidential election (1st Lead)
Jun 12, 2009, 5:00 GMT
A Supporter of incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as paint Iran’s flag on her face during an election rally in Tehran , Iran , on 10 June 2009. Ahmadinejad is confident that he will win the June 12 elections against his main challenger Mir-Hossein Moussavi and be re-elected for another four year term. EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH
Tehran - One hour after polling stations opened in Iran for Friday's presidential election, voters had already turned out in unprecedentedly high numbers, witnesses said.
In the capital Tehran, long queues formed even before the polling stations opened at 8 am (0330 GMT), several witnesses said.
The high participation early in the day confirmed predictions by the Iranian Interior Ministry that there would be a record turnout in this year's presidential polls.
About 46.2 million Iranians out of a total population of 70.4 million are eligible to vote.
Mir-Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezaei are the three candidates challenging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
According to opinion polls, Moussavi has emerged as the president's main challenger.
There are 45,713 polling stations throughout the country and 304 for Iranians abroad, including 32 in the United States.
Voting is to continue until 6 pm (1330 GMT), but it was expected to be extended by four hours.
The Interior Ministry said the results would gradually be announced on Saturday.
In case none of the four candidates receives an absolute majority in the first round of voting, a run-off would be held June 19 between the two candidates with the most votes.