CNN logo
WORLD navbar

Infoseek/Big Yellow

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

World banner

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 permissive.

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 international strategy.

Reuters contributed to this report.

CNN Plus

Special section:

Related stories:

Related site:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Search for related CNN stories:
Tip: You can restrict your search to the title of a document.

Example: title:New Year's Resolutions

Message Boards

Sound off on our message boards

Tell us what you think!

You said it...

To the top

© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.