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.
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