|Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi|
The Islamist Ennahda party was officially declared the winner of Tunisia's election, setting it up to form the first Islamist-led government in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings. Ennahda got 41,5% of the votes. Election commission members said it had won 90 seats in the 217-seat assembly. This assemblee will draft a new constitution, form an interim government and schedule new elections, probably in 2013.
The Islamists' nearest rival, the secularist Congress for the Republic (CPR) of human rights capaigner Moncef Marzouki , was in second place with 13.8 per cent, representing 30 seats, and Ettakatol (Forum démocratique for le travail et les libertés of Mustafa Ben Jafaar) third with 9.7 per cent or 21 seats.
After Ennahdha was officially declared the winner, its leader Rachid Ghannouchi said: "We will continue this revolution to realise its aims of a Tunisia that is free, independent, developing and prosperous in which the rights of God, the Prophet, women, men, the religious and the non-religious are assured because Tunisia is for everyone."
Ennahda, which was banned before the revolution of January, is now expected to broker a coalition with two of the secularist runners-up. The party has already said they will put forward Hamadi Jbeli, the deputy of party leader Rachid Ghannouchi and a former political prisoner, for the post of prime minister. The party is moderately Islamist. Ghannouchi points at the approach of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party as a model. Secularists say the Islamists will try to impose an Islamic moral code on society but Ghannouchi has denied this. His officials say there will be no restrictions on foreign tourists -- a big source of revenue -- drinking alcohol or wearing bikinis on the country's Mediterranean beaches.
Ennahda has also reached out to anxious investors by saying it will not impose Islamic banking rules. It says it is inclined to keep the finance minister and central bank governor in their posts when it forms the new government.
The announcement of the results was slightly overshadowed by riots in Sidi Bouzid, the place where the revolution originated after fruit seller Mohammed Bouazzizi set fire to himself in December. Protesters there were angry that election officials had canceled seats won by the Popular List, a party led by businessmen Hachmi Hamdi, over alleged violations of the restrictions on the financing of the campaigns. Hamdi's party is popular in Sidi Bouzid. The Popular List was running in fourth place in the election, according to preliminary results, before its seats were canceled. The party's leader used to support Ben Ali and during the election ran a populist campaign heavily promoted on the British-based television station he owns.
More than 2,000 young people marched on the Sidi Bouzid headquarters of Ennahdha, burned tyres and pelted security forces with stones. Protests spread to nearby Menzel Bouzayane where more than 1,000 people demonstrated, union official Mohamed Fadhel said. In Meknassy, 50km from Sidi Bouzid, demonstrators set fire to Ennahda's party office, Fadhel said.