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Hassan Rouhani wins Iran Elections

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The Centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani has won last Saturday's elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran, after appealing to both conservative and reform-minded voters on his platform of "hope and prudence".

A cleric, scholar and state representative, Rouhani won the election by taking just over 50 per cent of the popular vote, with second place going to Tehran's former Mayor Mohammed Qalibaf, whose vote share totalled at just under 17 per cent.

The Minister of the Interior has reported that last week's election recorded one of the highest turnouts in the Republic's history, with over 70 per cent of Iranians registered at the polls.

Of the six presidential candidates selected by Iran's Guardian Council, Rouhani was widely seen as the most progressive candidate.

In campaign rallies and speeches, he pledged to free political prisoners and journalists, while taking further steps to negotiate with the West, especially on the Nuclear issue.

He also proposed a number of reforms to help Iran's economy, including greater investment into infrastructure and education.

Despite Rouhani's victory, there has been a substantial degree of scepticism from the international community. No foreign observers were present to monitor this years elections, raising concerns that the final tallies were unfair.

Additionally, some media sources have noted that Rouhani's prior association with the supreme council may have influenced the outcome of the election.

While attempting to separate himself from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rouhani's victory has not been without concern. While congratulating the victory, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu expressed the need for caution, stating: "Let us not delude ourselves. The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program".

He went on to say that while Ahmadinejad had been replaced, it was ultimately the Supreme Ayotollah Khameini who confirmed the Republic's final decisions.

Talking to the Press Corps this week, Rouhani will undoubtedly face questions on both the Nuclear Programme as well as the ongoing conflicts within the region, especially in Syria.

Early reports from Syria's opposition groups have urged for drastic policy changes, particularly drawing back from unconditional support for pro-government forces.

Speaking from Istanbul, the Syrian Coalition said: "With its continued support for Assad, Iran has used all political, military, and economic means to block Syrians from achieving democracy and freedom".

Iran's stock exchange and currency markets reacted positively to the victory, with the index rising by 2 per cent, while the Rial strengthened by 9 per cent against the U.S Dollar.

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