Moncef Marzouki looks on at the constituent assembly in Tunis
Moncef Marzouki looks on at the constituent assembly in Tunis. Tunisia's veteran opposition leader Marzouki was elected president Monday, a month and a half after the north African country held its first post-revolution election. © Fethi Belaid - AFP
Moncef Marzouki looks on at the constituent assembly in Tunis
AFP
Last updated: December 12, 2011

Ex-opposition leader Marzouki elected Tunisia's president

Tunisia's veteran opposition leader Moncef Marzouki was elected president Monday, a month and a half after the north African country held its first post-revolution election.

The fierce opponent of ousted dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was elected with 153 votes in the 217-member assembly, with three of the 202 deputies present voting against, two abstaining and 44 casting blank ballots.

The national anthem played in the assembly as supporters shouted "Loyalty to the Martyrs of the Revolution" after the vote was held.

The 66-year-old leader of the Congress for the Republic Party, dressed in his usual grey suit with a white shirt but no tie, thanked the assembly, saying he was "proud to carry the most precious of responsibilities, that of being the guarantor of the people, the state and the revolution."

Marzouki is to be sworn in Tuesday at the presidential palace in Carthage.

His first order of business will be to name the prime minister, with Hamadi Jebali, the number two of the Ennahda party that came in first in the October 23 legislative poll with 89 seats, expected to get the nod.

Marzouki's election came two days after the assembly adopted a provisional constitution allowing the country to name a government.

The vote -- 141 in favour, 37 against and 39 abstentions -- came after five days of often tumultuous debate which saw hundreds of people demonstrating calmly outside the assembly building shouting slogans demanding "Freedom and Dignity".

The election of a president and creation of a new government could take place only once lawmakers adopted the "mini-constitution", laboriously drawn up over two weeks after the elections.

The elections were the first since the January ouster of Ben Ali, whose fall sparked the Arab Spring that also saw long-time dictators toppled in Egypt and Libya.

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