The Independent High Authority for Elections announced on Tuesday, September 17, that presidential candidates Kais Saied and Nabil Karoui won the first round of the presidential election that took place on Sunday, September 15. Saied, a law professor not affiliated to any party, won 18.4% of the votes while Karoui, a businessman and founder of the Qalb Tounes party won 15.58%.
Both candidates will run-off in the presidential election, although the date for the run-off has not yet been announced.
Election-related protests are possible across Tunisia following the announcement. A heightened security presence and localized disruptions are to be anticipated around any demonstration sites over the coming hours and days.
As of September 18, presidential candidate Nabil Karoui remains in custody on charges of tax evasion and money laundering. His lawyers are reportedly looking to release him for jail before the run-off.
The presidential election seeks to replace President Beji Caid Essebsi, who died on July 25. Former speaker of parliament, Mohamed Ennaceur, is currently serving as interim president. The elections were set to take place on November 17 but were rescheduled due to Essebsi's sudden death. Prominent presidential candidates included former Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, acting president of Parliament and vice president of Ennahdha party Abdel Fattah Mourou, as well as former Minister of Defense Abdelkrim Zbidi. Thus, the results of the first round came as a surprise as both Karoui and Saied were considered as outsider candidates, as neither has held political office before.
Individuals in Tunisia are advised to monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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