- Saied received 18.4 percent of the vote, while Karoui came second with 15.6 percent.
- The EU observer mission in Tunisia said the first round of early presidential elections was "transparent," but expressed regret that candidates were unable to campaign.
- Until recently, Saied was not included in the calculations of the ruling coalition parties as a serious contender in the presidential race.
Tunisia’s Independent High Electoral Commission (INEC) announced that candidates Kais Saied and Nabil Karoui will compete in the second round of presidential elections. While Ennahda congratulated the winners, the EU said the elections were transparent.
Tunisian law professor Kais Saied and media magnate Nabil Karoui (who was detained for money laundering) won the first round of presidential elections held on Sunday, the Independent Electoral Commission said on Tuesday. Saied received 18.4 percent of the vote, while Karoui came second with 15.6 percent. The candidates will enter the second round, which will be determined by the Commission after the expiry of the deadlines of appeals and the announcement of the final results.
Islamic Renaissance Party candidate Abdelfattah Mourou came in third, with 12.9 percent of the vote; Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi came in fourth, with 10.73 percent; and current Prime Minister Youssef Chahed received 7.3 percent. The Islamic Renaissance Movement issued a statement congratulating the presidential candidates, “wishing that the second round will take place in the same positive climates in the first round.”
Meanwhile, the EU observer mission in Tunisia said the first round of early presidential elections was “transparent,” but expressed regret that candidates were unable to campaign, referring to the arrest of Karoui. Fabio Castaldo, head of the observer mission and vice-president of the European Parliament, said the vote constituted an additional stage in building Tunisian democracy, which is dedicated as a model in the region.
According to European observers, the election campaign was “pluralistic,” and expressed fairness for all. While recognizing the independence of the judiciary, the mission considers that the authorities concerned have not taken the necessary measures to allow candidates to campaign, in respect of the principle of equal opportunities enshrined in Tunisian law.
It is noteworthy that Karoui, the founder of the private channel, Nessma, has been subject to judicial suspicions since 2017. A complaint from Tunisian NGO, I-Watch, which works in the fight against corruption, led to charges of tax evasion and money laundering. He was arrested on August 23, 10 days before the start of the election campaign, prompting observers to question the politicization of the judiciary.
The retired constitutional law professor said his result surprised his fellow candidates in the first round. Until recently, Saied was not included in the calculations of the ruling coalition parties as a serious contender in the presidential race. Mourou, Chahed, and Zbidi were all expected to finish above Saied.
However, the 61-year-old, who advanced to the presidential race after collecting popular acclaim, has made spectacular leaps in polls during the election period and the polling day knocked out his rivals. The Independent High Electoral Commission of Tunisia announced that candidates Kais Saeid and Nabil Karoui will compete in the second round of presidential elections.