Ennahda claims win as Tunisian official results due

Islamists claimed victory in Tunisia’s first democratic election as official results will be announced on Tuesday.

Islamists claimed victory in Tunisia’s first democratic election as official results will be announced on Tuesday.

Ennahda party said it had already tallied results posted at polling stations after Sunday’s vote, the first since the uprisings which began in Tunisia and spread through the region.

“The first confirmed results show that Ennahda has obtained first place,” campaign manager Abdelhamid Jlazzi said outside party headquarters in the centre of the Tunisian capital.

As he spoke, a crowd of more than 300 in the street shouted “Allahu Akbar!” or “God is greatest!”. Other people started singing the Tunisian national anthem.

Party officials said they were prepared to form an alliance with two secularist parties, Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol.

“We will spare no effort to create a stable political alliance … We reassure the investors and international economic partners,” Jlazzi said.

Two days after an unprecedented 90 percent of voters turned out for the election, officials were still counting the ballot papers in some areas. They said nationwide results would not be ready before Tuesday afternoon.

Sunday’s vote was for an assembly which will sit for one year to draft a new constitution. It will also appoint a new interim president and government to run the country until fresh elections late next year or early in 2013.

The voting system has built-in checks and balances which make it nearly impossible for any one party to have a majority, compelling Ennahda to seek alliances with secularist parties, which will dilute its influence.

“This is an historic moment,” said Zeinab Omri, a young woman in a hijab, or Islamic head scarf, who was outside the Ennahda headquarters when party officials claimed victory.

“No one can doubt this result. This result shows very clearly that the Tunisian people is a people attached to its Islamic identity,” she said.

Tunisia became the birthplace of the “Arab Spring” when Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable seller in a provincial town, set fire to himself in protest at poverty and government repression.

His suicide in December provoked a wave of protests which forced autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia the following month.

The only official results released were from polling stations abroad, because they voted early.

The election commission said that out of 18 seats in the 217-seat assembly allocated to the Tunisian diaspora, 9 went to Ennahda. Its closest rivals were Marzouki’s Congress on four seats and Ettakatol, which won three.

The highest-profile secularist challenger to Ennahda, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) conceded defeat.

Ennahda’s win was a remarkable turnaround for a party which just 10 months ago had to operate underground because of a government ban and which had hundreds of followers in prison.

In a slick and well-funded campaign, the party tapped into a desire among ordinary Tunisians to be able to express their faith freely after years of secularist repression.

 

25 October 2011 Tuesday