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Tunisia: Poll suggests surprise result in presidential vote

Presidential candidate Kais Saied kisses Tunisian flag as he wins the presidential election according to unofficial results in Tunis on 15 September 2019. [Nacer Talel - Anadolu Agency]
Presidential candidate Kais Saied kisses Tunisian flag as he wins the presidential election according to unofficial results in Tunis on 15 September 2019 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Supporters of the independent presidential candidate, Kais Saied in Tunisia began celebrations after a polling firm projected him as the winner, Anadolu reports.

About 45% out of seven million eligible voters, turned out to vote in Tunisia on Sunday to choose among 24 candidates.

According to projections by the polling firm Sigma Conseil, Kais Saied, a 61-year-old law professor and an expert on constitutional affairs is leading the race, expected to secure 19.5% of votes. The preliminary results will be announced on Tuesday.

“My win brings a big responsibility to change frustration to hope… it is a new step in Tunisian history… it is like a new revolution,” said Saied to a local radio station on Sunday.

Jailed media mogul, Nabil Karoui, representing Qalb Tounes (the Heart of Tunisia) party, is ranking second netting15.5%, votes. He is behind bars due to a money-laundering probe.

Read: Tunisians vote in competitive presidential election

The Islamist-inspirited party Ennahdha’s candidate Abdelfattah Mourou is expected to get the third position, with 11% votes.

The campaign managers of Mourou, however, rejected the projections, saying the only body to announce the results, was the official election commission.

The projected results showed that Minister of Defense Abdelkarim Zbidi has secured just 9.4% of votes. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed is projected to stand at fifth rank securing 7.5% votes.

Head of the Independent High Electoral Commission Nabil Bafoun has announced that the turnout of voters was 45.02% at home and 19.7% abroad at the end of voting, down from 64% recorded in a first-round in 2014.

The elections were advanced because of the death of Beji Caid Essebsi, the first democratically elected president in July. He had assumed office in 2014.

In the Tunisian system, a candidate needs a majority of votes to win the election. If no-one gets a majority in the first round, the two candidates with most votes will face a second, decisive round. In this case, it appears that Saied and Karoui will face in the next round, as both of them are projected way behind securing the majority of votes.

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