Voting underway in Tunisian Presidential runoff election

Voting underway in Tunisian Presidential runoff election

Voting underway in Tunisian Presidential runoff election between media magnate Nabil Karoui and conservative lawyer Kais Saied.

Karoui’s Qalb Tounes party emerged as the second-strongest in the newly elected parliament.

The two self styled outsider candidates delivered a shock to the Tunisian political establishment when they came in the top two of 26 candidates during the first round of election held on September 15.

Saied garnered 18.4 percent of votes while Karoui, who was released from prison just days ago, came second with 15.6 percent in the first round.

In the last hours of the campaign on Friday afternoon, the main avenue in Tunis was the site of two contrasting scenes.

At one end, Karoui’s campaign set up a stage with strobe lights and live music.

At the other, Saied supporters organised a more modest gathering, with poetry readings and amateur leaflets.

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“I hope that all Tunisians will have pasta to eat every night,” Karoui said on stage, responding to the nickname “makrouna” (pasta), given to him because of the charity handouts that he is known for.

The 56-year-old businessman based his campaign on ending poverty and says he wants to increase presidential powers by expanding the definition of national security to include social and economic issues.

He has also said he wants to liberalise Tunisia economy.

This was one of the few public appearances that Karoui made during his campaign as he was jailed, on accusations of money laundering and tax evasion, in August just before the electoral period started. Karoui denies the charges and said they were politically motivated.

Amid growing pressure to release him in order to allow a free and fair election campaign, he was freed last week, although his detention could provide grounds to reject the result.

Saied’s supporters celebrated without him.

The independent candidate said that he would not campaign on “ethical” grounds given that his opponent was in jail.

Even before this, Saied ran a minimalist campaign, which in itself appealed to voters who see him as “clean”.

He has proposed reorganising the political system by giving power to local councils and holds socially conservative views, opposing the decriminalisation of homosexuality and legislation that ensures equal inheritance for men and women.

For many this second round is about pragmatism.

Voting underway in Tunisian Presidential runoff election,While sources claims that Kais saied is leading the presidential race so far.

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