Kais Saied and jailed Nabil Karoui to contest Tunisia’s presidential run-off

North African country’s voters reject ineffective forces in power since 2011 revolution

Media magnate and candidate for Qalb Tounes party Nabil Karoui (left) and independent Kais Saied: two to go head to head in Tunisian presidential election’s second round. Photograph: Hasna and Fethi Belaid/AFP

Media magnate and candidate for Qalb Tounes party Nabil Karoui (left) and independent Kais Saied: two to go head to head in Tunisian presidential election’s second round. Photograph: Hasna and Fethi Belaid/AFP

 

Tunisia’s electoral commission said on Tuesday law professor Kais Saied and detained media mogul Nabil Karoui won the most votes in Sunday’s presidential election, beating veteran political leaders to advance to a second-round run-off.

It is a sharp rejection of the established forces that have dominated since the 2011 revolution but failed to address economic troubles that include high unemployment and inflation.

Tunisia’s president has only limited powers, controlling foreign and defence policy, while a prime minister chosen by the parliament manages other portfolios.

Tunisia’s main political parties are now turning to a parliamentary election on October 6th.

New dawn

“Tunisians have written a new and brilliant page in the history of Tunisia, ” Mr Saied told reporters at his humble headquarters in the heart of the capital after the announcement.

“I am an independent, but I am ready to work with all parties to build a new Tunisia.”

Karoui’s Qalb Tounes party did not release any immediate statement, with their candidate still in jail over allegations of tax evasion and money laundering, but it issued footage showing supporters watching the commission’s declaration and cheering. He denies the charges.

The announcement, following a full count of votes, confirmed exit polls released on Sunday evening and partial results issued throughout Monday. No date has yet been set for the second round, pending any appeals to the first-round results, but it must take place by mid-October.

Mr Saied took 18.4 per cent of the votes and Karoui 15.6 per cent. Of the other 24 candidates, who included the prime minister, two former premiers, a former president and the defence minister, the moderate Islamist Ennahda candidate Abdelfattah Mourou came in third with 12.9 per cent. – Reuters