88-year-old veteran is Tunisia’s new president

TUNIS, Tunisia – Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old veteran politician, Monday December 22 won Tunisia’s first free presidential election after beating incumbent Moncef Marzouki with over 55 percent of the vote.
The head of the electoral commission, Chafik Sarsar, who was visibly emotional, said Marzouki, 67, secured 44.32 percent of the vote. The former exile has been interim president since 2011.
Marzouki, who had earlier criticized Essebi for “premature” celebration after exit polls declared him winner, conceded defeat and congratulated the former official in Zine El Abidine Bin Ali’s one-party administration on winning the election.
The presidential run-off vote marked the final step in the country’s transition to full democracy four years after an uprising toppled long-time leader Bin Ali.
Essebsi, after the ouster of Bin Ali, reinvented himself as a technocrat and his secular Nidaa Tounes party profited from the backlash against the country’s first post-revolt Islamist government.
The Nidaa Tounes headquarters in the capital Tunis witnessed loud celebrations with several hundred jubilant supporters taking to the streets and waving Tunisia’s red and white national flag.
Essebsi, his critics say, doesn’t have good democratic credentials and his win marks the return of a discredited establishment. They said that he served under the former dictator, making his record as pro-democracy a suspect.
Nonetheless he has emerged as a winner and will rule the north African nation with 10.8 million people.
Voting was largely pronounced free and fair with a turnout rate of 60.11 percent, less than the nearly 70 percent in the previous round and legislative elections in October.
US President Barack Obama congratulated Essebsi on his election and the country’s transition to democracy in a statement issued by the embassy in Tunis.
“The strong commitment by Tunisia’s leaders and the Tunisian people to inclusive political dialogue, consensus-building, and democratic values has been crucial to the success of the political transition and will be equally important during the next phase,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, police fired tear gas in the southern city of Hamma to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who burned tires in protest at Essebsi’s victory.
“All shops are closed. They are chanting ‘No to the old regime’,” said Ammar Giloufi, a local resident.

The Africa News.net

Posted by on Jan 12 2015. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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