Iran: moderate candidate wins presidential vote

Associated Press
View photos
FILE -- In front of a portrait of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, presidential candidate Hasan Rowhani, a former top nuclear negotiator, center, gestures to his supporters at a rally in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 1, 2013. Iran's reformist-backed presidential candidate surged to a wide lead in early vote counting Saturday, June 15, 2013, a top official said, suggesting a flurry of late support could have swayed a race that once appeared solidly in the hands of Tehran's ruling clerics. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's interior minister says moderate candidate Hasan Rowhani has won the presidential vote, handing a victory to the cleric who gained support of many reform-minded Iranians looking to claw back a bit of ground after years of crackdowns.

Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said at a press conference Saturday in Tehran that Rowhani obtained more than 50 percent of more than 36 million votes cast in Friday's election. Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, a conservative candidate who had been running far behind in second place, conceded defeat.

The powerful showing by the former nuclear negotiator, which allowed him to avoid a runoff, demonstrated the strength of opposition sentiment even in a system that is gamed against it. Ruling clerics barred more prominent reform candidates.