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Iran's Supreme Leader Calls For High Turnout In Presidential Vote

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for a high turnout in the country's May 19 presidential election.

In remarks on May 17, Khamenei said a big turnout would mitigate the impact of what he called "unworthy" animosity in a series of televised debates between the candidates.

"In the election debates, some remarks were made that were unworthy of the Iranian nation. But the participation of the people will erase all of that," Khamenei told an audience, according to his website.

Khamenei also urged voters to send a message to the United States and Israel, frequent targets of vehement diatribes from the hard-line conservative Iranian leader.

President Hassan Rohani, a relative moderate, is seeking a second four-year term.

Three other candidates remain in the race and Rohani's strongest challenger appears to be hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi.

Khamenei has ultimate say in Iran, where politics and government have been dominated by the religious establishment since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Some opposition groups and personalities have called for a boycott of the election, arguing that ultimately it makes very little difference who is the president of the country and going to the polls would only serve to legitimize the regime.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP