Two independent candidates are leading the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election, according to latest official results released on Monday.
Presidential candidate Kais Saied topped the first round of voting, while Nabil Karoui, presidential candidate of the “Heart of Tunisia” party, came second, according to the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE).
The general turnout in the first round of presidential election reached 45.02% at home and 19.7% abroad, said Nabil Bafoun, president of ISIE.
“The current voter turnout is acceptable if we compare it to the last presidential election or the turnout in stable democracies. Exceeding 43% is an important achievement if we consider the political, economic and social failures of the authorities,” said Othman Lahiani, political analyst in Tunisia.
The head of the election authority declared that only ISIE is authorized to announce the official results of the early presidential election. Baffoun noted that there is no contradiction between the penal code and the electoral code with regard to presidential candidate Nabil Karoui who is in pre-trial detention. The electoral code did not refer to the situation of a candidate in prison and refers only to cases of withdrawal and death.
“The issue of the situation of a candidate in prison is governed by the penal code and the investigating judge had the discretionary power to examine the requests, notably to allow candidate Nabil Karoui to campaign, in accordance with the electoral code,” said Baffoun.
Karoui is awaiting trial in a case filed by the organization “I Watch” over suspected money laundering.
“Our candidate Nabil Karoui visited inner regions and solved the problems of Tunisians before building his party and reaching power. He was arrested because he was leading polls as the favorite candidate. We call for his immediate release,” said Samira Chaouachi, spokesperson for the Heart of Tunisia Party.
According to Tunisian and foreign observers, 97% of the polling stations complied with the legal procedures and did not experience any offenses that could disrupt the voting process.
The final result will be announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
The voting was held Sunday for a new head of state to succeed former President Beji Caid Essebsi, who passed away on July 25.