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Over 20 million Iranians cast votes so far: Interior Ministry

Iranian voters gather outside a polling station in the capital Tehran on May 19, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)

An Iranian Interior Ministry official says over 20 million people have cast their ballots in the country's twin elections by 5 p.m. local time (1230 GMT).

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Farhad Tajarri, the spokesman for the central committee tasked with monitoring city and village councils elections, described the turnout as "huge."

He added that the monitoring and executive committees are closely cooperating with each other and emphasized that no serious violation has been reported so far.

Iran's 12th presidential election and the 5th City and Village Councils Elections started simultaneously at 08:00 a.m. local time (0330 GMT) on Friday at some 63,500 polling stations inside the country and 310 others in 102 countries.

Former Iranian Judoka Arash Miresmaeili, left, poses for a picture after casting his ballot during the presidential and city and village council elections in Tehran on May 19, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)

The Iranian Interior Ministry's Election Office announced that the voting hours have been extended to 10:00 p.m. local time (1730 GMT).

Voters are to choose from the four candidates of Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani, former deputy judiciary chief, Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, member of Iran’s Expediency Council Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim, and former vice president, Mostafa Hashemi-Taba.

According to Iran's Interior Ministry, around 56.5 million are eligible to vote, of which 1.3 million are first timers.

Millions of Iranians are still queuing up to vote, showing strong turnout in a tight presidential contest, which pits President Rouhani against a serious challenger, Raeisi. 

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