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Moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani elected president of Iran, interior ministry says

Vahid Salemi / AP

Hasan Rowhani waves at supporters during a campaign rally in April.

The Iranian interior ministry announced on Saturday that moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani has won the country’s presidential election, NBC News confirms.

Rouhani won with a fraction over the 50 percent of the vote needed to win outright on the first poll. Voter turnout was recorded at 72.7 percent.

Press TV, an Iranian state media outlet, reported that Rouhani was born in the city of Sorkheh and earned his masters and doctorate degrees at Glasgow Caledonian University.

After receiving more than three times the number of votes than his closest rival, moderate cleric Hassan Rohani has been declared the new president of Iran. Msnbc's Alex Witt reports.

Rouhani was the closest thing to a reform candidate in the election to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Mohammad Reza Aref dropped out of the race on Tuesday. Some Iranians showed their support for Rouhani on the streets by wearing purple bracelets.

Aref’s withdrawal was seen as likely to help Rouhani, who drew substantial crowds at his campaign rallies.

Rouhani also won the support of an advisory council aligned with reformist former President Mohammad Khatami.

A former nuclear negotiator, it is not considered likely that Rouhani will bring about any major policy shift regarding the country’s disputed nuclear program. The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini is responsible for all major national security policy decisions in the country.

The White House responded to the ministry’s announcement that Rouhani had won with a statement on Saturday.

“We respect the vote of the Iranian people and congratulate them for their participation in the political process, and their courage in making their voices heard,” the statement from the office of the White House press secretary read. “It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians.”

A spokesperson for Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office acknowledged the announcement of Rouhani’s election on Saturday.

“We call on him to use the opportunity to set Iran on a different course for the future: addressing international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, taking forward a constructive relationship with the international community, and improving the political and human rights situation for the people of Iran,” the spokesperson said in the written statement.

The presidential vote was Iran’s first since 2009. That election led to protests and rallies by reformists when Ahmadinejad, the incumbent, was named the winner.

This year’s election proceeded in relative calm.