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Marzouki invites Essebsi to televised debate in Tunisia's runoff presidential election

November 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm

The campaigns of both Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and his rival Beji Caid Essebsi have secured the top two positions in the first round of the presidential elections, which took place on Sunday, and Marzouki has now invited Essebsi to a televised debate in front of the Tunisian people, Arabs48 news website reported on Monday.

The campaigns of Essebsi and Marzouki each claimed winning shortly after the polling stations closed in the first free presidential elections in the country’s history. There are no official results yet, but competitors have also acknowledged their defeat.

According to the preliminary results, neither Marzouki nor Essebsi obtained enough votes to avoid a runoff, which is expected to take place in around a month.

Arabs48 quoted Marzouki as saying, in a speech to his supporters late on Sunday from the balcony of the central headquarters of his party, that he is inviting Essebsi to a televised debate and a direct confrontation in front of the Tunisian people.

The campaign of Essebsi, a former official in the era of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled in a popular uprising in 2011, did not comment on the invitation.

Marzouki said he expects that his rival would accept this challenge.

He also called on his allies in the struggle who did not succeed in winning the presidential election to support a democratic president against the return of those who were a part of the old regime, referring to his rival Essebsi.

However, Mohsen Marzouki, the head of Essebsi’s campaign, claims that his party is now representing the “new system” and that the losers in the parliamentary elections are the ones that represent the old system.

After more than three years following the end of the one-party rule under Ben Ali, Tunisia spearheaded a paradigm shift in the region through forming a new constitution, following a consensus policy and avoiding the turmoil faced by its neighbours.

Sunday’s vote comes in the wake of general elections held in October, where the secular Nidaa Tunis party won the majority of seats in the parliament, defeating the Islamic Renaissance Party, which had won the first free elections back in 2011.