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Iran’s Majlis, Assembly of Experts Elections Kick off Friday with 55 mn Voters

25 February 2016 23:08



Iranians are going to the polls on Friday to vote in two crucial elections after a week of campaigning by candidates.

Voting for the 290-seat Parliament (Majlis) and the 88-member Assembly of Experts will be held simultaneously. Around 55 million Iranians are eligible to vote in the two elections. The highest number of voters is in the capital of Tehran reaching 8,475,000.

As many as 4,844 candidates, including about 500 women, are competing for a place in the Parliament, head of the Interior Ministry’s election headquarters Mohammad Hussein Moqimi said on Thursday.

The week-long campaigns of the candidates officially ended at 08:00 a.m. local time (04:30 GMT) on Thursday, 24 hours before the beginning of the votes.

Polls will open at 04:30 GMT and are scheduled to close at 14:30 GMT but voting could be extended if required.

Every citizen aging 18 years is eligible to cast his/her vote.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said some of the candidates had pulled out.

“It now leaves around 17 people competing for each parliamentary seat,” he said.

More than 52,000 constituencies have been set by the executive bodies in all parts of the country, and they may reach 53,000. 120,000 ballot boxes are also expected to be set for both elections.

Moreover, at least one million people are managing the election process, starting by the preliminary arrangements more than 10 months ago.

Around 250 members of the Internal Security Forces are expected to secure the elections in 53,000 polling center and 110,000 ballot boxes across Iran, in addition to 18 helicopters and 8 drones.

470 foreign and Arab journalists from 29 different countries will cover Friday’s elections.

Ahead of the voting, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei warned against enemy plots to infiltrate the elections, calling on the nation to remain vigilant.

“The nation neither wants a pro-government parliament nor an anti-government one,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

“They want a courageous and devout parliament that knows its duties and is not intimidated by the United States,” the Leader added.

Iran’s President Sheikh Hassan Rouhani texted mobile phone users urging them to vote, saying participation was needed “to build the future of the country with plenty of hope.”

In their campaigns, candidates zeroed in on economic topics, including unemployment, economic growth, and recession. The official unemployment rate stands at 10 percent and inflation hovers around 15 percent.

Members of Parliament generally break into two main blocs, those who support a reformist agenda and those who are conservatives.

Reformists are vying for seats under the leadership of Mohammed Reza Aref, a former vice president, while the main conservative faction in the elections is headed by Gholamali Hadad Adel, a former parliament speaker.

As many as 161 other candidates are running for the Assembly of Experts. Members of the Assembly serve eight-year terms while MPs are elected every four years.

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