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Voting begins in Iran presidential election

Millions of voters across Iran have begun to cast their ballots in the country's presidential elections, four years after the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Polling stations opened at 8:00am local time (03:30 GMT) on Friday and close 10 hours later, although if there is a massive turnout the interior ministry can extend voting until midnight. At the same time as choosing a new president from six candidates, voters will also pick municipal councillors. There are 130,000 ballot boxes in over 60,000 voting stations. Over 50 million eligible voters in Iran are eligible to vote for the first time. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has called for a large turnout but not publicly stated his preference for any single candidate, cast his ballot in the capital Tehran at the Hosseini Imam Khomeini Mosque in the Beit Rahbari compound early on Friday. "Among those running ... I had someone in mind who I chose. I haven't told anyone (of my vote). Even those close to me like my family and children don't know who I voted for," he told state television as he voted. Khamenei derided Western misgivings about the credibility of the vote.

"I recently heard that someone at the US National Security Council said 'we do not accept this election in Iran'," he said. "We don't give a damn."

If no candidate secures 50.1 percent or more of the votes to win outright on Friday, a second round will be held a week later.

The first results are expected late Friday or early on Saturday.

Al Jazeera's Soraya Lennie, reporting from Tehran, said that while the elections have been a little bit more subdued compared to four years, people have been arriving quite early and lines are already forming outside the voting stations.

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