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Conservative academic Kais Saied elected president of Tunisia, electoral commission confirms

Tunisian presidential candidate Kais Saied reacts after exit poll results were announced in a second round runoff of the presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia, on October 13, 2019.
Tunisian presidential candidate Kais Saied reacts after exit poll results were announced in a second round runoff of the presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia, on October 13, 2019. Zoubeir Souissi, Reuters

Conservative political outsider Kais Saied has won Tunisia’s presidential election by a landslide taking 72.71 percent of the votes, the North African country’s electoral commission said Monday.

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Saied garnered 2.7 million votes against one million received by his rival business tycoon Nabil Karoui in Sunday’s runoff, the commission said.

The vote—the second presidential election since 2014 -- reflected Tunisia’s shifting political landscape since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ousted an autocratic regime.

Saied, a retired law professor with a rigid and austere demeanour that earned him the nickname “Robocop”, was carried to victory by young voters, wooed by his anti-establishment platform.

Around 90 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds voted for Saied, according to estimates by the Sigma polling institute, compared with 49.2 percent of voters over 60.

According to Tunisian law, the results can still be appealed within two weeks before the new president is sworn in at the end of the month.

The electoral commission ISIE said turnout was 55 percent, slightly lower from an initial figure of 58 percent announced Sunday after the runoff.

It noted however that turnout was higher than during the first round on September 15.

Saied, a 61-year-old constitutional law expert, campaigned on the values of the 2011 revolution, based on opposition to Westernised and corrupt elites, and in favour of radical decentralisation.

The poll, Tunisia’s second free presidential election since its 2011 revolt, followed the death of president Beji Caid Essebsi in July.

(AFP)

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