Posted with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Tehran (dpa) - Moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani defeated by a wide margin his closest rival, hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, to be re-elected president of Iran, official results showed Saturday.

Rowhani won 57 per cent of the ballots cast while Raisi earned 38 per cent, the Interior Ministry announced, with 73 per cent of eligible voters turning out in Friday's election.

The poll was billed as a referendum on Rowhani's Western-friendly reformist agenda - in particular his nuclear deal with world powers, which set up international controls over Iran's nuclear programme in return for the end of economic sanctions.

More than 56 million Iranians were eligible to vote in the election, whose polling deadline was extended after huge voter turnout caused long queues at polling stations in the capital.

Raisi, an arch-conservative who had the support of the state's powerful body of unelected Islamic clerics, had accused Rowhani of lies and incompetency, blaming him for high unemployment and saying that the Iran nuclear deal had brought nothing to the country.

Rowhani, 68, has told voters that they face a choice between freedom and "women and men separated by walls." Iran's presidential term is four years.

The two other candidates in the race received less than 5 per cent of the vote.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who played a leading role in negotiating the nuclear accord in 2015, offered her congratulations to Rowhani for his "strong mandate."

She tweeted that the European Union is ready to work with Iran to secure the "full" implementation of the deal.

So far the economic turnaround that Rowhani had promised with the nuclear deal has not materialized. European banks refuse to finance new business agreements because a number of US sanctions against Iran remain in place.

Rowhani first assumed office in August 2013, succeeding Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.