Ahmadinejad wins second term in Iranian elections - Middle East - World - The Times of India 13 Jun 2009, 0953 hrs IST, AFP TEHRAN: Hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered a thumping victory in Iran's fiercely-contested presidential race, official results showed on Saturday, in a major upset for his moderate rival. "Doctor Ahmadinejad, by getting a majority of the votes, has become the definite winner of the 10th presidential election," state news agency IRNA declared as his jubilant supporters took to the streets in celebration. However, his main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi -- who pledged to improve relations with the outside world during the most heated election campaign since the Islamic revolution -- also declared himself the victor, suggesting a tense battle lay ahead. Ahmadinejad won 65 percent of the vote against more than 32 percent for war-time premier Mousavi, with almost 90 percent of ballot boxs counted, said election commission chief Kamran Daneshjoo, highlighting the massive turnout. The international community has been keenly watching the election for any signs of a shift in policy after four years of hardline rhetoric from the 52-year-old Ahmadinejad and a standoff on Iran's nuclear drive. Mousavi, who was aiming for a political comeback on a groundswell of support among the nation's youth, complained of irregularities in the vote, including a shortage of ballot papers and attacks on his campaign offices. "In line with the information we have received, I am the winner of this election by a substantial margin," said Mousavi, who had pledged to ease restrictions particularly on women, and fix Iran's ailing economy. But as the official results showed Ahmadinejad would be back for a second term, his supporters began pouring on to the streets of Tehran, honking their horns and waving Iranian flags. "Where are the greens? -- in a mousehole," the crowds mocked, referring to the campaign colours of Mousavi, whose supporters thronged the streets in mass rallies during the campaign. "I am happy that my candidate has won -- he helps the poor and he catches the thieves," said sandwich seller Kamra Mohammadi, 22. The election underscored deep divisions in Iran after four years under Ahmadinejad, who enjoyed passionate support in rural towns and villages, while in the big cities young men and women threw their weight behind Mousavi. Iran has been at loggerheads with the West as Ahmadinejad delivered a succession of fiery tirades against Israel, repeatedly questioned the Holocaust and vowed to press on with nuclear work, denying allegations Tehran was seeking the atomic bomb. Passions ran high during the campaign, with Ahmadinejad and his challengers hurling insults at each other in acrimonious live television debates while their supporters staged massive carnival-like street rallies. Ahmadinejad, portraying himself as a man of the people, pledged to stamp out corruption and help the poor while his rivals accused him of mismanaging the economy of one of the world's top oil producers and damaging the nation's international standing. The election was a clear two-horse race, with results showing former Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezai coming a distant third with 2.5 percent of the vote and ex-parliament speaker Mehdi Karroubi fourth with less than one percent. Ahmadinejad's campaign manager Mojtaba Samareh Hachemi dismissed the rival camp's claim of victory, insisting the incumbent remained "the president of all Iranians." "According to the votes counted so far, the distance between Ahmadinejad and his rivals is so great that any doubts cast on this victory will be treated as a joke by the public," he was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying. Daneshjoo said turnout was estimated at a record of between 75 and 82 percent of the 46.2 million electorate, with long queues forming at polling stations across the country. "Historic Turnout on the Nation's Great Day," was the headline in the state-run Iran newspaper. US President Barack Obama, who has called for dialogue with Iran after three decades of severed ties, said he saw the "possibility of change" in relations with the Islamic republic. "Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact that there's been a robust debate hopefully will help advance our ability to engage them in new ways," Obama said. Even if 67-year-old Mousavi had won, it was doubtful there would be any major shift in Iran's nuclear and foreign policy as all decisions on matters of state rest with all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In the United States, home to the largest Iranian expatriate population, opponents of the regime condemned the election as a "sham." The vote has nevertheless highlighted a call for change after 30 years of clerical rule in a country where 60 percent of the population was born after the revolution. The economy was also a key election issue, with the country battling inflation at 24 percent, rising unemployment and plunging income from crude oil exports.