Millions of Iranians cast ballots Friday in elections to replace incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a race that is being characterized as a potential challenge to the country's ruling Islamic clerics.
A slate of conservatives tacitly backed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are facing off against the lone moderate, Hasan Rowhan, a former nuclear negotiator.
Other candidates include Saeed Jalili, also a nuclear negotiator; Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf; and Khamenei's diplomatic adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati.
In Syria's ally Iran, people are voting for president today. It is Iran's first presidential election since the stunning vote in 2009. Back then, a surprisingly early declaration of victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked a wave of protests, followed by years of government repression. This time around, six candidates are contending for power amid widespread skepticism about the election, and intensive security on the streets.
The day we arrived in Iran's capital, Tehran, billboards along the drive from the airport to the city center were already telling us something about what's happening in the country as it prepared for Friday's presidential elections.
We see typical highway signs for Sony Ericsson, but also billboards featuring the face of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. We also see and drive under giant signs that are from Iran's current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urging people to vote.