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AFP
September 18, 2019

Professor, prisoner expected to face off in Tunisia runoff

World

AFP
September 18, 2019

Official results in Tunisia’s presidential election were expected on Tuesday to confirm a duel in the second round between law professor Kais Saied and imprisoned media mogul Nabil Karoui.

With almost 90 percent of ballots counted, Saied was set to advance to the next round, with 18.8 percent of the vote ahead of Karoui, who had 15.7 percent, according to the electoral commission, ISIE.

Depending on if any appeals are launched, the second round could be organised for October 6, the same day as legislative elections, or on October 13, ISIE said. The two candidates -- though 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 the population, especially young graduates, while inflation eats away at already low incomes. Tunisian voters on Sunday "preferred to venture into the unknown rather than extend a hand again to those who betrayed their hopes", Le Quotidien newspaper said.

Karoui’s arrest in the runup to the election cemented his status as an outsider, despite being a longtime key supporter of president Beji Caid Essebsi, whose death on July 25 brought forward the polls.

Saied, a fiercely independent academic, advocates a radical decentralisation of power, with local democracy and the ability to remove elected officials from office during their mandates. ISIE also said it is to investigate alleged electoral violations, including campaigning on behalf of Karoui by Nessma TV, founded by the media mogul.

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