Iran’s Ahmadinejad to be replaced by a moderate in surprise election victory

A GLASGOW-EDUCATED cleric this weekend won Iran’s Presidential election with a landslide victory after gaining the support of reformist movements.

Hassan Rouhani, considered to be a moderate, took more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round to ensure he will not have to face a run-off. He will replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is stepping down after eight years in the top job.

“This is a victory of intelligence, of moderation, of progress over extremism,” Rouhani told crowds in the capital Tehran.

The US welcomed the election result with caution, saying it was “ready to engage directly” with Iran over the country’s nuclear weapons programme.

Rouhani’s support surged in the final days of the campaign as pro-reform figures endorsed his candidature. He beat a field of conservative rivals by pledging to bridge the divide between reformists and tradition and attracting Iranians tired of Ahmadinejad.

However, his power is limited as foreign policy and nuclear weapons issues will continue to be controlled by a council of unelected clerics.

A former chief nuclear negotiator for Iran, Rouhani spent time in the UK at Glasgow Caledonian University and gained a PhD from the institution in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the civil war in Syria. The UK has considered arming rebels, while Russia is providing support to the existing regime.