Mar 3 - Iran declares an initial turnout of over 60 percent in a parliamentary election shunned by most reformists as a sham. Jessica Gray reports.
Initial counts show around 65% of eligible voters turned out in Iran's parliamentary elections yesterday. In Tehran on Saturday, many Iranians were pleased that so many had gone to the polls. (SOUNDBITE)(Farsi) TEHRAN RESIDENT DAVOOD ATASHGAHI "Yes, I participated and I saw a good turn-out of people, which was eye-catching, especially in the final hours. People really welcomed it in the final hours." The Islamic state is eager to sure up its legitimacy after the controversial 2009 re-election of President Ahmadinejad, which opponents say was rigged. Few believe, however, the new parliament will be able to solve the country's many issues. This man says voters are concerned with rising food prices, unemployment and political isolation. Iran's refusal to halt nuclear activity has stoked tensions with the West, and President Obama has not ruled out military action to stop Tehran building nuclear weapons. Friday's vote will likely do little to change the country's nuclear policy, but is expected to reinforce the power of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over opposition hard-liners supported by Ahmadinejad. Elections results could also tip the 2013 presidential run off against Ahmadinejad. The vote is being counted manually and tabulated over the next three days. Jessica Gray, Reuters