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Hardline mayor wins Iran runoff

Ahmadinejad, center, arrives at a polling station with his bodyguards on Friday.


Hashemi Rafsanjani
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- a hard-line conservative who has said Iran should embrace the principles of the 1979 Islamic Revolution -- was declared the winner of Iran's presidential election early Saturday, garnering about 62 percent of the votes, the Interior Ministry said.

Al-Alam, a 24-hour news network in Iran, quoted the Interior Ministry as saying Ahmadinejad defeated former two-term President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

With 90 percent of the vote counted, the Interior Ministry gave Ahmadinejad 62.2 percent of the vote, while Rafsanjani had nearly 35.3 percent. The ministry posted a notice in its headquarters declaring Ahmadinejad the winner of Friday's runoff.

An estimated 23 million votes were cast, or nearly 49 percent of Iran's 47 million eligible voters. In last week's first round of the presidential election, the turnout was close to 63 percent, the Associated Press reported.

Ahmadinejad's win over Rafsanjani, who was largely seen as the front-runner, marked a remarkable comeback.

Ahmadinejad had not been expected to even make it into the runoff, but he managed to pull off a surprising second-place finish in last week's balloting, putting him into the showdown with Rafsanjani.

Polls closed in the presidential runoff about 11:30 p.m. Friday (3 p.m. ET) after several extensions were issued to allow late voters to cast ballots.

Many analysts said a victory for Ahmadinejad would deal a blow to those throughout the country who have fought for democratic and economic reforms -- even if supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameinei has the last word in matters of state.

The race between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad set up a striking choice for Iranians.

Rafsanjani had softened his stance in recent months, calling for improving Iran's strained ties with the West -- including the United States, which has had no formal diplomatic ties with the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Ahmadinejad called for embracing the principles of the revolution. He had the support of many vigilantes and popular militias, as well as many poor people. He has said he wants to turn some cultural institutions, created in recent years, into mosques.

Following are recent comments by Ahmadinejad in key policy areas, compiled by Reuters news agency:


"Relations with the United States are not a cure for our ills."

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has no fear about restoring ties but ... how to carry it out must be studied so that the independence, pride and self-esteem of the Iranian nation will not be harmed."


"Acquiring peaceful nuclear technology is the demand of the whole Iranian nation, and the rulers as representatives of the people must put all their efforts into realising this demand."

"Those who are in negotiations are frightened and do not know the people ... A popular and fundamentalist government will quickly change the country's stance in favour of the nation."


"We did not have a revolution in order to have a democracy."

"People think a return to revolutionary values is only a matter of wearing the headscarf."

"The country's true problem is employment and housing, not what to wear."


"Currently, the private banks have no positive or constructive role in the economy, rather a destructive one."

"I will cut the hands off the mafias of powers and factions who have a grasp on our oil, I stake my life on this ... People must see their share of oil money in their daily lives."

"The increase in petrol prices has led to an increase in all other prices. The solution is to use public transport."


Is it a concern? "No ... we cannot shut the doors to the country."

"My own phone bill is so high because my children use the Internet so much."


"Iran needs at least more than three years before joining the WTO. We need time and need to defend our industry."

-- CNN's Matthew Chance contributed to this story

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