Tunisia election: Essebsi, Marzouki likely to go for run-off

Tunisia election: Essebsi, Marzouki likely to go for run-off

Monday, November 24, 2014 5:16 am

Tunisia’s incumbent President Moncef Marzouki on Monday appeared set for a runoff vote against an anti-Islamist party ex-premier after the first free leadership vote since the 2011 revolution that sparked the Arab Spring.

The election is a milestone in the North African country where a popular uprising set off a chain of revolts that saw several Arab dictators toppled by citizens demanding democratic reform.

 Beji Caid Essebsi : leads the poll

Beji Caid Essebsi : leads the poll

The campaign manager for Marzouki said he is neck and neck with former premier Beji Caid Essebsi, the pre-polling favourite among 27 candidates vying for the top job.

“At the worst we are even but at best we’re between two and four percent ahead,” Adnene Mancer told reporters after polling closed.

“Our chances are good as we go into a runoff” next month, he said.

But the camp of Essebsi, the 87-year-old political veteran whose anti-Islamist Nidaa Tounes party won October’s parliamentary polls, said he had come out ahead in Sunday’s vote.

Essebsi, “according to preliminary estimates, is ahead and has a large lead”, his campaign manager Mohsen Marzouk told journalists.

But with Essebsi “not far short” of the absolute majority needed to win outright, a second round was likely, Marzouk added.

Marzouki’s campaign manager said he was concerned that “fraud” had been committed by the Essebsi camp, and urged election monitors to stay vigilant.

– Exit polls –

Exit polls conducted by a private organisation gave Essebsi between 42.7 percent and 47.8 percent of the vote with Marzouki trailing at between 26.9 percent and 32.6 percent, a state television report said.

Official results from what Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa called a “historic day” will be known by Wednesday and a runoff second round vote will be held in late December if there is no outright winner.

Marzouki called on “all democratic forces” to back him in a second round against his rival.

Another presidential hopeful, Hamma Hammami, who according to exit polls came in third, told the media that his political group will meet “as soon as possible” to examine how they should vote in case of a runoff.

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.