Two "anti-system" candidates, including one in prison, said Sunday night they qualified for the second round of the presidential elections in Tunisia, with results not officially confirmed. Jailed businessman Nabil Karoui and independent scholar Kais Saied, two newcomers on the political scene, claimed their qualification on the basis of two polls of Tunisian private institutes.
Saied in the lead with 19% of the vote, Karoui second with 15%
But the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, whose candidate Abdelfattah Mourou is given third by these polls, stressed that "only the Elections Body gives the results". "Our own results are different, but we will wait to be sure," Ennahdha MP Samir Dilou told reporters. The official results will be announced by Tuesday at the latest by the Elections Authority (Isie).
According to the Sigma Council and Emrhod institutes, Kais Saied came in first with around 19% of the vote ahead of Nabil Karoui, who received around 15% of the vote. Abedlfattah Mourou is given third with 11 to 12.5% of the vote. If they are confirmed, these results would be a real thunderclap that sweeps the Tunisian political class in power since the 2011 revolution, and opens a period of immense uncertainty in the pioneer country of the Arab Spring.
"Robocop" against a man in prison
61-year-old independent scholar Kais Saied, nicknamed "Robocop" because of his rigid diction and impassive face, said he was aware of "great responsibility". "I am the first of the first round, and if I am elected president I will apply my program," he said, in a small apartment in central Tunis, surrounded by about fifteen people from his campaign.
For his part, Nabil Karoui, 56, has been behind bars since August 23, under investigation for money laundering and tax fraud. If his qualification in the second round is confirmed, it will be an unprecedented situation in the world.
Seven million Tunisians were called to ballot for the first round of this poll, the second free presidential election since the revolution of 2011. The participation was 45.2%, said Isie, the governing body of elections, which qualified this rate as "acceptable".