Polls have closed later than scheduled in Iran, with authorities saying a bumper turnout slowed things down. All six candidates issued a joint appeal for calm after the vote, in light of post-election unrest in 2009.
Iran's Interior Ministry said on Friday that voting had ended in elections to choose a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who has served the maximum two-terms in office.
Some voting booths stayed open several hours longer than initially scheduled, with officials saying preliminary data pointed to a record voter turnout that slowed the process. Authorities estimated that as many as 70 percent of some 50 million eligible voters may have cast a ballot, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appealed for as large a turnout as possible.
Six candidates are vying for the presidency; cleric Hassan Rohani was the preferred candidate for most Iranian reformists while five candidates considered loyal to Khamenei threatened to split the conservative vote.
The 2009 election in Iran prompted months of unrest in the country as opposition supporters alleged that the vote was rigged. All six contenders on Friday issued a joint statement before the polls closed urging supporters of any stripe to remain calm.
"We ask people not to pay attention to rumors of victory parades being organized and to avoid gathering before the official results," the candidates, all of whom were vetted by Iran's Guardian Council, said.
Final results were not expected before Saturday.
msh/pfd (AFP, AP, Reuters)