Conservative judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is clearly in the lead with most of the votes counted in Iran’s presidential election, an Interior Ministry spokesman said on Saturday.
Earlier his main rival, Abdolnasser Hemmati, a relatively reform-oriented candidate, made a concession statement on his Instagram account after media reports had put Raisi beyond reach in early results following Friday’s poll.
Raisi, 60, is set to succeed moderate President Hassan Rowhani.
It would mark a significant change in direction for the government in Iran after eight years under Rowhani.
The candidates are hoping to succeed moderate President Hassan Rowhani, who cannot run again after two terms in office.
During the election campaign, Raisi focused on economic issues and promised a quick end to the economic crisis caused by U.S. sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear programme.
While Iranian state television said turnout was high nationwide, including in Tehran, eyewitnesses had observed that polling stations in the capital were largely empty, with an exception in some southern parts.
Some 59 million people had been eligible to cast their ballot.
Final results are expected later this weekend with expectations, however, of a winner emerging on Saturday.
The new president is to be sworn in in August