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Tunisia's Ennahda party admits defeat in legislative polls

AFP, Reuters, Monday 27 Oct 2014
Nidaa Tounes
Beji Caid Essebsi, the head of Nidaa Tounes party, casts his vote at a polling station in Tunis October 26, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Tunisia's leading Islamist party, Ennahda, has accepted defeat in Sunday's election, and congratulated its secular rival Nidaa Tounes on winning most parliamentary seats, a senior Ennahda official said on Monday.

"We have accepted this result, and congratulate the winner," Lotfi Zitoun, a senior Ennahda party official told Reuters.

Zitoun said the party reiterated its call for the formation of a unity government, including Ennahda, in the interest of the country,according to AFP.

"We have estimates which are not yet final. They (Nidaa Tounes) are ahead by around a dozen seats," Ennahda spokesman Zied Laadhari said.

"We will have around 70 seats and they will have about 80" out of 217 contested in Sunday's election, he told AFP.

The estimates were based on data provided to Ennahda observers at polling stations "but are not complete", Laadhari cautioned.

Ennahda and Nidaa Tounes were hot favourites for Tunisia's first parliamentary election since the uprising that toppled longtime strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali three years ago.

Nidaa Tounes leader Beji Caid Essebsi already said on Sunday night that there were "positive indications" his party was ahead.

Ennahda's head Rachid Ghannouchi said he would not predict the outcome ahead of official results -- which must be announced by October 30 -- but he stressed the need for consensus.

"Whoever comes out top, Nidaa or Ennahda, the main thing is that Tunisia needs a government of national unity, a political consensus," he told Hannibal television.

Coalition talks are expected to start this week as no single group was tipped to win the outright parliamentary majority needed to govern alone.

 Tunisia's leading Islamist party, Ennahda, has accepted defeat in Sunday's election, and congratulated its secular rival Nidaa Tounes on winning most parliamentary seats, a senior Ennahda official said on Monday.

"We have accepted this result, and congratulate the winner," Lotfi Zitoun, a senior Ennahda party official told Reuters.

Zitoun said the party reiterated its call for the formation of a unity government, including Ennahda, in the interest of the country.

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