Iran's Khamenei says turnout in presidential election was 'lower than expected'

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei marks anniversary of Islamic republic founder Khomeini's death

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that the turnout in the first round of the country's presidential election was "lower than expected", semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

Turnout was about 40%, Iran's interior ministry said - the lowest on record since the 1979 revolution.

"We hope that people's turnout for the second round will be important and a source of pride for the Islamic Republic," Khamenei said, calling upon Iranians to cast their ballot this coming Friday.

Friday's vote will be a tight race between lawmaker Massoud Pezeshkian, the sole moderate in the original field of four candidates, and former Revolutionary Guards member Saeed Jalili.

The election is to elect a successor to President Ebrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

Khamenei added that the lower-than-expected turnout was due to "several factors" and that claims that non-voters were against the Islamic Republic were "strongly mistaken".

(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom, Elwely Elwelly; Editing by Michael Georgy and Alex Richardson)