Thursday, November 27, 2014

Essebsi wins first round in Tunisian elections

Tunisian secularist leader Beji Caid Essebsi has narrowly beaten incumbent President Moncef Marzouki in the first round of a landmark presidential election, but the two frontrunners must meet again in a December run-off. Essebsi, from the secular Nidaa Tounes party, got 39.46 percent in Sunday's vote, short of the needed overall majority but ahead of Marzouki, who got 33.4 percent, according to early results released on Thursday by election authorities.

Marzouki, a rights activist, says the revival of officials from Ben Ali's one-party rule would erode the revolution that ended his regime. But Marzouki's critics tie him to the crisis over Ennahda's Islamist-led government he joined after 2011.
Both candidates will now seek support from the range of Islamist, liberal and left-wing parties who fielded candidates. Key will be who wins votes from supporters of Ennahda and the left-leaning Popular Front, both well-organized movements.The hunt for votes for the second round - expected on Dec. 14, 21 or 28 depending on challenges to first-round results - will be determined by parties positioning themselves for the new government.

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