News / Middle East

Iranian President-Elect Addresses Nation After Surprise Victory

A supporter of moderate cleric Hassan Rohani celebrates his victory in Iran's presidential election along a street in Tehran, June 16, 2013.
A supporter of moderate cleric Hassan Rohani celebrates his victory in Iran's presidential election along a street in Tehran, June 16, 2013.
VOA News
Iran's President-elect Hassan Rowhani has hailed his win in the country's election as a victory over "extremism," as thousands of his supporters celebrated Sunday in the streets of Tehran.

In his first public statement since Friday's vote, the reformist cleric called his election a victory of moderation and intelligence over extremism.

Many analysts see Rowhani's surprise victory as a popular repudiation of the conservative hardliners in the race.

The president-elect has vowed to improve ties with the international community, although Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final say in all strategic matters, including nuclear policy.

Rowhani, a former chief nuclear negotiator and the favorite of reformists, earned slightly more than 50 percent of the vote - close to 19 million out of nearly 37 million counted.  His closest competitor among five other candidates was Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, who received about 16 percent of the vote.  Turnout was more than 70 percent.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Rowhani and encouraged Iranian authorities and the president-elect to play a "constructive role" in regional and international affairs.

The Obama administration also congratulated the Iranian people for their participation in the election.  But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Iran's election took place amid what he called "government obstacles and limitations," including censorship of the media, an intimidating security environment and a lack of transparency.

Carney said the U.S. hopes Iran's government will heed its people's will and make choices that create a better future for them.  He reiterated the U.S. willingness to engage Iran directly to reach a diplomatic solution to concerns about its nuclear program.

Rowhani will take on an economy struggling with high unemployment and inflation, and crippled by international sanctions for the country's disputed nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday cautioned the international community not to ease sanctions on Iran because of "wishful thinking" following Rowhani's election.  He called Iran's alleged pursuit of atomic weapons the "greatest threat to world peace," and pointed out that Iran's supreme leader, not the president, is the person who determines nuclear policy.

Iran's presidential vote was the first since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009 spawned widespread protests and a bloody crackdown by the government.  Ahmadinejad, known internationally for his hostility toward the U.S. and Israel, was barred by law from a third term.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
June 17, 2013 6:16 AM
First of all I congratulate to Iran and Irani peoples to have peaceful election without any blood. Which is now a days completely impossible even in so called civilised society. Now I request to elected President to give more and more attention on domestic issues. We cannot survive in this world if there is increase in social problems and there is no downfall in graph. Iran enemy or enemies will take full advantage of these social problems and they can create problems for Iran. In the end we wish bright future for iran and irani peoples under new President.

by: Wilf Tarquin from: Tonga
June 17, 2013 12:42 AM
The title of President is largely ceremonial in Iran, the power rests with the guardian council of mullahs, and ultimately with Supreme Leader for life Ayatollah Khamenei. The job of the president is to act as right-hand man and mouthpiece to Khamenei.

In short, nothing's changed in Iran. The elections exist to give the people an illusion of self-government, but Iran is and remains a dictatorship, and nothing will change until the dictator, Khamenei, is deposed.
In Response

by: Dave from: UK
June 18, 2013 2:31 AM
Although Khamenei has a lot of power, a lot of things do change under different presidencies, like we've seen it before during Khatami's presidency when Iran had the best foreign relations with the west. The interior affairs also was better, people had much more freedom. President has a lot of power. However Khamenei is in charge of all armed forces and sometimes reconciles the disputes between politicians, or between the government and the congress. It's not a monarchy.

by: Nora Dylan from: USA
June 16, 2013 10:20 PM
to all the Iranians here... listen... isn't it a humiliation to be considered as incompetent by your own Mullahs...?? Velayat-e faqih... the custody of the idiots... LOL... where is your pride...??
In Response

by: Arash from: Iran
June 18, 2013 2:38 AM
That's why we voted for a reformist candidate. He's going to create a free atmosphere for different newspapers and let new ideas publish what they want. This freedom of ideas is a step towards a more tenable government. If we didn't vote, another hardliner would come and destroy the country. We voted someone who president Khatami endorsed. We really loved it when Khatami was our president

by: Samuel Prime from: Canada
June 16, 2013 7:14 PM
I won't pretend to predict anything but only to note two possibilities that come to mind. First, on the big issues, like the stalled nuclear program, that lies squarely under the authority of Ayatollah Khamenei and not the president. As such, there may be no change on that issue (just more stalled talks). The second possibility is if the Ayatollah could seize the opportunity as a face saving device to modify his policy/approach to the nuclear issue and thereby give Rowhani more latitude in allowing the issue to progress in the way Rowhani thinks. I suspect that the first of these possibilities is the more likely one. But the second one (less likely) would help to move the nuclear issue forward. All in all, I suspect that Rowhani's tenure will not be that different from Khatami's a decade ago - so more toned down and less hotheaded than the outgoing president.
In Response

by: Peyman from: Iran
June 18, 2013 2:45 AM
What's your problem with our nuclear program? You are allowed to have nuclear weapons and don't want us to use even peaceful nuclear energy? What's the logic of that? after so many years West and America has no evident that shows we're seeking nuclear bomb. If they had. they would have attacked Iran

by: Kevin from: Wolfer
June 16, 2013 9:40 AM
Jay Carney's advice on Iran's system should be heeded by his own boss, " described as "government obstacles and limitations," including a lack of transparency, censorship of the media and an intimidating security environment."
Why doesn't Pres. Obama listen to his people?

by: Suzi Saul
June 16, 2013 9:22 AM
He looks like a nice man...maybe he actually is.

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