Tehran – Polls opened in Iran on Friday with voters set to give their verdict on President Hassan Rouhani’s policy of opening up to the world and efforts to rebuild the stagnant economy.

He faces stiff competition from hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, 56, who has positioned himself as a defender of the poor and called for a much tougher line with the West.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast his ballot just minutes after polls opened at 8:00 am (0330 GMT).

“The destiny of the country is in the hand of Iranians,” he told reporters as he voted in Tehran.

Long lines had already formed at polling stations in the capital.

© AFP Behrouz MEHRI Iranians queue to vote in an election seen as a verdict on the rule of President Hassan Rouhan

© AFP Behrouz MEHRI – Iranians queue to vote in an election seen as a verdict on the rule of President Hassan Rouhan