Tunisia’s outgoing president promises smooth transition

2014-12-25 10:56
Tunisia's outgoing president Moncef Marzouki gestures as he addresses his supporters at his campaign headquarters in Tunis, a day after his rival Beji Caid Essebsi's victory in the presidential election. (Fethi Belaid, AFP)

Tunisia's outgoing president Moncef Marzouki gestures as he addresses his supporters at his campaign headquarters in Tunis, a day after his rival Beji Caid Essebsi's victory in the presidential election. (Fethi Belaid, AFP)

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Tunis - Tunisia's outgoing president, Moncef Marzouki, defeated in the country's first democratic presidential election, says he will hand over power on Tuesday next week in a move aimed at easing post-vote unrest.

Beji Caid Essibsi, a former prime minister, won 56% of the ballots cast in Sunday's run-off, while Marzouki received 4%, according to initial results.

Several areas in Tunisia have seen riots in response to Essibsi's win. His detractors see him as part of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime, the long time autocrat who was ousted in the 2011 uprising.

Marzouki, a human rights activist, said late on Wednesday that he would not contest the outcome of the vote despite what he called "transgressions" in the run-off.

"I will not appeal out of my love for Tunisia and its stability. I have decided to hand over power on Tuesday," Marzouki said in an address to the nation.

"We should think in a rational way. What matters most now is national unity and power handover as soon as possible."

The election commission has said it will release final official results of the vote on Friday if Marazouki does not appeal against the preliminary results.

Essibsi, now 88, served in several high-ranking positions under the founder of independent Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, and his successor Ben Ali.

Essibsi's secularist Nida Tounes party took the lead in October's parliamentary elections.

The presidential and legislative polls completed a democratic transition in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts.

Read more on:    beji caid essebsi  |  moncef marzouki  |  north africa
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