Essebsi leads in first round of Tunisia vote | News | DW | 25.11.2014
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Essebsi leads in first round of Tunisia vote

Tunisian presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi is leading by six percentage points against incumbent Moncef Marzouki. Since neither candidate won a majority of the votes, they will face off in a run-off election.

Tunisia's independent election commission declared the outcome of the weekend presidential election insufficient for naming a new leader because neither of the leading candidates had clinched the necessary 50 percent of the vote to win.

Beji Caid Essebsi, veteran politician of the anti-Islamist party Nidaa Tounes, won roughly 39 percent of the votes, it said.

The interim president, Moncef Marzouki, trailed six points behind, garnering only 33 percent of the ballots cast.

The two leading candidates are to run again in a second race in December, but this time they must woo the voters who supported a number of other candidates, including third place winner Hamma Hammami, who won 8 percent of the vote.

EU observers later declared the polls "pluralist and transparent," according to the news agency AFP.

In Tunisia, the presidency is largely a symbolic role, with the prime minister entrusted with the bulk of the power. Nevertheless, Sunday's election marked a historic first for the North African country, which has been gradually moving toward democracy since the ouster of its ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Until the revolution, Tunisia had only had two presidents. Habib Bourguiba, who led the Tunisian state after independence from France in 1956, was the first, before being deposed by Ben Ali.

The popular uprising that same year that led to Ben Ali's departure is considered the beginning of the Arab Spring.

kms/mz (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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