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Carter Center praises launch of Tunisia elections

November 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm

The Carter Center election observation mission said Sunday that the voting process of Tunisia’s presidential elections has kicked off in a decent, peaceful and professional manner.

The assertion came in a press conference by the mission’s head Mary Ann Peters on Sunday at a polling station in the capital Tunis to report on how the presidential elections are proceeding.

According to Peters, the mission has not detected any violations so far.

Peters also stressed that the observation mission is neutral and that its role is limited to observing the election process and the extent of Tunisia’s adherence to the international standards of conducting elections.

The members of the 75-strong mission have been present at polling stations across the country since the morning to monitor the opening of the ballot boxes, even before the beginning of the electoral process, she added.

Polls opened at 8am local time (07:00 GMT) as nearly 5.2 million eligible voters are expected to cast their ballots in a vote billed as the first free presidential election in the country that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings three years ago.

Two candidates appear to be the frontrunners in the polls – interim President Moncef Marzouki, who was voted in office by members of the elected Constituent Assembly a few months after Ben Ali’s ouster, and Beji Caid Essebsi, who served as parliament speaker under Ben Ali.

Essebsi is also the leader of Nidaa Tounes Party, which clinched the most seats by a single party in last month’s parliamentary polls.

A candidate needs to win the majority of votes (50% + 1) to be declared a winner. Otherwise, the two top candidates will have to go through a runoff, due before the end of December.