Illustration by KL./

 – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that the turnout in the first round of the country’s presidential election was “lower than expected”, semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Turnout was about 40%, Iran’s interior ministry said – the lowest on record since the 1979 revolution.

“We hope that people’s turnout for the second round will be important and a source of pride for the Islamic Republic,” Khamenei said, calling upon Iranians to cast their ballot this coming Friday.

Iran Regime’s Presidential Contenders Face Hurdle of Voter Apathy

Friday’s vote will be a tight race between lawmaker Massoud Pezeshkian, the sole moderate in the original field of four candidates, and former Revolutionary Guards member Saeed Jalili.

The election is to elect a successor to President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

Khamenei added that the lower-than-expected turnout was due to “several factors” and that claims that non-voters were against the Islamic Republic were “strongly mistaken”.

ANALYSIS: Iran’s Elections Are Setback for Khamenei 

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom, Elwely Elwelly; Editing by Michael Georgy and Alex Richardson)

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