Tehran, Feb 21 (IANS) Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was among the first to cast his ballot in the country’s 11th parliamentary elections on Friday, for which voting was underway nationwide.
Speaking after casting his vote, Khamenei told the media here: “These elections mark a day of national celebration and I have to congratulate all my fellow countrymen across the country on this occasion,” Press TV reported.
“The day of elections is the day of the fulfilment of the civil rights of the people which seek to vote and participate in determining the future of the country, as they are entitled to.
“…It is a religious obligation and the truth is that it is elections which guarantee the national interests of the country and anyone who is interested in the national interests of the country should vote,” Khamenei added.
The Leader urged voters to turn out in huge numbers.
Polling stations across the country opened at 8 a.m., reports Press TV.
A total of 57,918,000 eligible voters will cast their ballots to elect 290 lawmakers and seven members of the Assembly of Experts — the deliberative body empowered to designate and dismiss the Supreme Leader.
While the parliamentary elections were being held nationwide, the mid-term Assembly of Experts polling is taking place in five provinces of Tehran, Qom, North Khorasan, Khorasan Razavi and Fars.
More than 7,000 candidates are competing to enter Parliament.
A winning candidate must have at least 20 per cent of the votes cast in their constituency in order to become lawmaker for a four-year term.
Images shared on social media showed long lines of people standing in front of polling stations shortly before the voting began.
Earlier this week, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli had said that a total of 55,000 polling stations were set up across the country’s 31 provinces.