Moderate clinches victory in Iran presidential election
May 24, 1997
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EDT (0330 GMT)
TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Moderate cleric Mohammad Khatami was
declared the winner in Iran's presidential election after his
conservative rival conceded defeat, state radio and
television said Saturday.
Khatami won 20.7 million votes of the 29.7 million votes cast
in Friday's election, radio and TV said. Two other
candidates in the election trailed with nominal vote tallies.
The race between Khatami and conservative parliament speaker
Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, who was backed by the country's
supreme spiritual leader, was expected to be much closer, and
some had even predicted a Nateq-Nouri win.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a brief
statement endorsing Khatami's victory.
"I give my warm congratulation to Mr. Khatami," he said.
"I congratulate your election by the people as president,"
Nateq-Nouri said in a radio-broadcast concession speech. "I
pledge to use all my resources in cooperation with you."
Khatami is expected to take office in August, replacing President Hashemi Rafsanjani, another
moderate who has served two four-year terms.
Hard-liners, with the blessing of spiritual leader Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei, solidly backed Nateq-Nouri. In an already
staunchly fundamentalist Islamic nation, the hard-liners
wanted even stricter enforcement of a code that would ban
activities from dating to satellite television dishes. Top
clerics even declared that a vote for Khatami was forbidden.
But Khatami, the former culture minister endorsed by
Rafsanjani and supported by a broad coalition of
left-wingers, the young and intellectuals, won the day with
his pledges to relax some of the strict mores.
"When he was minister of culture we had few problems with
things like censorship," said Mohammad Razavi, owner of a
Tehran publishing house. "Now we have many."
Nateq-Nouri and his conservative faction forced Khatami out
as culture minister in 1992, accusing him of being too
Khatami's win in an election seen by many as a referendum on
18 years of the Islamic revolution is unlikely to change
Iran's relations with Western nations. But the margin of
victory is a serious blow to the hard-liners who have made
animosity toward the West a cornerstone of their
Reuters contributed to this report.
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