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Exclusive: Tunisia presidential run-off vote set for October 13

France 24 | Nabil Baffoun, president of Tunisia's electoral commission, speaks to France 24 on Friday, September 27, 2019.

The second round of voting in Tunisia’s presidential election, pitting law professor Kais Saied against imprisoned media mogul Nabil Karoui, will be held on October 13, the head of the country’s electoral commission said Friday.

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Nabil Baffoun, president of the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE), confirmed the date in an interview with FRANCE 24.

"Sunday October 13 will be the date of the second round," he said.

Saied and Karoui, both seen as outsider candidates, came out on top in the first round of voting held on September 15. Saied claimed 18.40 percent of the vote and Karoui 15.58 percent.

The elections had originally been planned for 17 and 24 November, but were brought forward after the death of incumbent Beji Caid Essebsi.

Neither candidate has ever held political office. They beat out two former prime ministers and the candidate from moderate Islamist party Ennahdha, the biggest force in Tunisia’s parliament.

The two candidates although very different have drawn on the same “anti-system” sentiment among the electorate, spurred by exasperation with the status quo.

Unemployment plagues about 15 percent of Tunisia's population, especially young graduates, while inflation eats away at already low incomes.

Karoui is under investigation for alleged money-laundering and has been in pre-trial detention since August 23. His lawyers are seeking his release from jail before the run-off. Accused of tax evasion and money laundering, he says he’s the victim of a smear campaign.

Karoui remains eligible to run despite his imprisonment, as long as any conviction does not also specifically deprive him of his civil rights, according to the ISIE.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP and AFP)

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