Voting continues in Tunisia

2014-11-24 09:43
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki casts his vote at a polling station in Sousse, 140km south of the capital, during Tunisia's first presidential election since the 2011 revolution. (Bechir Bettaieb, AFP)

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki casts his vote at a polling station in Sousse, 140km south of the capital, during Tunisia's first presidential election since the 2011 revolution. (Bechir Bettaieb, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tunis - Voting was continuing on Monday after Tunisians cast ballots in the country's first presidential election since the overthrow of long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a 2011 uprising.

Official results are expected by Tuesday. Shortly after polls closed on Sunday, aides of former prime minister Beji Caid Essibsi - whose secularist Nidaa Tounes party was the top vote-getter in October's parliamentary election - claimed he was ahead of interim President Moncef Marzouki.

State-run Tunisia 1 television aired projections showing Essibsi with nearly 48% of the vote, compared to Marzouki with 27%. Other exit polls showed a smaller margin between the top finishers.

A record 27 candidates ran in the presidential race, and if no candidate obtains an outright majority, a run-off between the top two contenders will be held on 28 December.

Voting increased momentum on Sunday afternoon after weak turnout earlier in the day, electoral officials said.

Serious violations

Independent election commission chief Shafiq Sarsar said nearly 54% of the 5.2 million eligible voters had cast their ballots by 16:30. Polls closed at 18:00.

Sarsar said voting ran smoothly Sunday without "serious violations".

Election observers reported isolated vote-buying and other attempts to influence voters. European monitoring teams reported that the vote went off somewhat better than in last month's parliamentary ballot.

Scott Mastic, Middle East and North Africa director for the US-based International Republican Institute, told dpa that the election was uneventful, though voter enthusiasm was lacking.

Some voters said they were eager about participating in the presidential election, a milestone in Tunisia's democratic transition.

"It is the first time that I have voted for a president," said a veiled woman named Hajer. "I don't want someone in this position who was with Ben Ali in the past. I prefer a president who used to be a revolutionary."

Hajer, who cast her ballot in Tunis, said she voted for Marzouki.

Sauda, another female voter, said she backed the 87-year-old Essibsi.

Presidential runoff

"I voted during the time of Ben Ali, but this election is very different," Sauda said at a polling station in Tunis. "Now we have a choice."

A senior official in Essibsi's campaign said a presidential runoff was likely. "We are ready to accept any result of the election," Mohsen Marzouq said at a press conference after voting ended.

The Tunisian constitution adopted this year grants the prime minister greater powers than the president, who is responsible for foreign affairs and defence.

The new president will have to grapple with re-establishing security in Tunisia, where suspected Islamist insurgents have carried out attacks, mainly against security forces, in recent months.

About 100 000 members of the security forces were deployed Sunday to keep peace during the election, police spokesman Mohammed al-Erawi said.

Voting in volatile provinces near the Algerian border started two hours behind schedule for security reasons, according to the election commission.

Tunisia temporarily closed its border with troubled neighbour Libya.

The legislative and presidential polls complete the democratization process in Tunisia, the birthplace of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

The North African country is widely seen as the sole success story of the Arab revolutionary movements. Revolts in Libya, Syria and Yemen have all led to varying degrees of ongoing conflict, and Egypt saw its Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, elected in 2012, deposed by the army last year.

Read more on:    north africa  |  tunisia elections 2014

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.