UPDATE ~ Iran hardliner sweeping to victory in run-off amid fraud allegations

UPDATE ~ Iran hardliner sweeping to victory in run-off amid fraud allegations

[JURIST] An official with Iran's Guardian Council said early Saturday local time that hardline Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [Wikipedia profile; campaign website in Farsi] had a commanding lead over former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [campaign website in Farsi] in the country's run-off presidential election. With roughly 12.9 million of 22 million ballots counted, Ahmadinejad had taken 61% of the vote, thanks largely to widespread support among conservative and religious voters in poorer provinces. Rafsanjani supporters had earlier claimed "massive irregularities" in the poll due to alleged pressure on voters by the hardline Basij militia; the Interior Ministry, whose officials are largely Rafsanjani backers, at one point called for some polling stations to be closed [JURIST report]. An Anti-Ahmadinejad blogger in Iran also says he has heard news of "extensive fraud" [blog post]. Reuters has more. Iran's IRNA news agency has local coverage.

8:17 PM ET – Updated figures from IRNA [report in Farsi] at 3:30 AM local time are translated [blog post] as 15 million votes for Ahmadinejad and 9 million for Rafsanjani of 24 million counted.

8:32 PM ET – AP is reporting that Iran's Interior Ministry has declared Ahmadinejad the winner of the presidential run-off election.