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Iran's President-Elect Addresses Nation After Surprise Victory


Source: VOA

Iran's President-elect Hassan Rowhani has called on citizens to remain "committed to the law" in order to establish peace and stability in the country. In his first televised speech since Friday's election, the moderate cleric said Sunday he "deeply" needs the people's assistance along the path toward preserving national pride and national interests.

A supporter of moderate cleric Hassan Rohani celebrates his victory in Iran's presidential election along a street in Tehran, June 16, 2013.

Rowhani's surprise victory was seen by many analysts as a popular repudiation of the conservative hardliners in the race.

A former chief nuclear negotiator and the favorite of reformists, Rowhani received slightly more than 50 percent of the vote - close to 19 million out of nearly 37 million counted. His closest competitor among five other candidates was Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, who received about 16 percent of the vote. Turnout was more than 70 percent.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Rowhani and encouraged Iranian authorities and the president-elect to play a "constructive role" in regional and international affairs.

People celebrate Rohani's victory in the streets of Qom

The Obama administration said it respects the vote of the Iranian people and congratulated them for their participation in the political process. But the statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney pointed out that Iran's election took place against what he described as "government obstacles and limitations," including a lack of transparency, censorship of the media and an intimidating security environment.

Carney said the United States hopes the Iranian government will heed its people's will and make choices that create a better future for them. He reiterated the U.S. willingness to engage Iran directly to reach a diplomatic solution to concerns over its nuclear program.

People celebrate Rohani's victory in the streets of Tehran

Iran's presidential vote was the first since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009 spawned widespread protests and a bloody crackdown by the government. Ahmadinejad, known internationally for his hostility toward the U.S. and Israel, was barred by law from a third term.

As Iran's next president, Rowhani will take on an economy struggling with high unemployment and inflation and crippled by the international sanctions over the country's disputed nuclear program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday cautioned the international community not to get ease sanctions on Iran due to "wishful thinking" following Rowhani's election. He called Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons the "greatest threat to world peace."

While the president-elect has vowed to improve ties with the international community, the election outcome is unlikely to significantly alter Iran's relationship with the rest of the world, as major policy decisions rest with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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