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Political Parties, Figures Get behind Tunisia’s Presidential Candidate Saied

Political Parties, Figures Get behind Tunisia’s Presidential Candidate Saied

Thursday, 19 September, 2019 - 06:30
Supporters of detained presidential candidate and Tunisian media mogul Nabil Karoui react after unofficial results of the Tunisian presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia, September 15, 2019. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

A number of political parties and candidates in Tunisia went on to back either independent candidate Kais Saied or Nabil Karoui, both of who had advanced to a runoff after obtaining the most votes in Tunisia's September 15 presidential election.

Each of Ennahda Movement ex-leader Hamadi Jebali, head of the Democratic Current party Mohamed Abbou, head of the Republican People's Union Lotfi Mraihi, Al-Irada party leader Moncef Marzouki and Ennahda Movement’s Abdellatif Mekki announced their support for Saied.

Abdellatif Mekki, for his part, called on Saied to surround himself with a well-qualified and balanced team should he win the elections.

The official announcement by the country's electoral commission on Tuesday confirmed constitutional law professor Saied won 18.4 percent of the vote while Karoui, owner of popular television station Nessma TV, garnered 15.6 percent.

Ennahdha's Abdelfattah Mourou came in third with 12.9 percent.

Head of the Republican People's Union Lotfi Mraihi, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, justified backing Saied with a number of reasons.

According to Mraihi, Saeid is an outstanding reformist and humble when it comes being one of the people.

As for the other camp, political parties and social organizations were embarrassed to outspokenly back Karoui, an imprisoned media mogul.

Karoui, who built his appeal on high-profile charity campaigns, is under investigation for alleged money laundering and has been in pre-trial detention since August 23.

Jamal Al-Arfawi, Tunisia-based political analyst explained that publicly backing Karoui is equivalent to facing accusations for getting behind corruption.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, political parties are forced to choose between Karoui and Saeid, who is backed by conservatives. This is particularly difficult for political parties in opposition to Islamist parties such as Ennahda, one of Saeid’s key backers.

Despite being jailed, Karoui’s candidacy and win were approved by the electoral commission.

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