Protests hit Sidi Bouzid after historic Tunisia poll

Amateur video apparently shows supporters of a rival party attacking Ennahda's local headquarters

Violent protests have erupted in central Tunisia, after the results of the country's first democratic elections in decades were announced.

Police used tear gas against hundreds of people in Sidi Bouzid who were protesting against the cancellation of seats won by one of the parties.

The town is the birthplace of the unrest which erupted earlier this year, triggering the Arab Spring uprisings.

The Islamist Ennahda party won last Sunday's elections.

Official results show that Ennahda secured more than 41% of the vote, which gives it 90 seats in the 217-member parliament.

Party leader Rachid Ghannouchi said his government would continue with the aims of the revolution, saying Tunisia was "for everyone".

Sunday's poll took place nine months after President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted.

Burning tyres

On Thursday evening, hundreds of people marched through Sidi Bouzid, protesting against the cancellation of seats won by the Popular List party in six electoral districts.

map

The electoral authorities said the party's candidate lists had been invalidated because of "financial irregularities".

The Popular List party, led by London-based businessman Hachemi Hamdi, had won a number of seats in Sidi Bouzid.

Reports say the protesters smashed doors and windows of the Ennahda headquarters in the town and also burned tyres on the streets.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Ennahda pledges

Earlier on Thursday, the electoral commission proclaimed Ennahda as the winner of Sunday's elections.

At a news conference in Tunis, election chief Kamel Jandoubi said that the party would have 90 seats in parliament.

Start Quote

We will continue this revolution to realise its aims of a Tunisia that is free, independent, developing and prosperous... Tunisia is for everyone”

End Quote Rachid Ghannouchi Ennahda leader

Ennahda has already said it wants to form a new government within a month.

Mr Jandoubi said the Congress for the Republic (CPR) - the country's biggest secularist party - was the runner-up in the elections with nearly 14%, winning 30 seats in parliament.

The leftist Ettakatol party came third with almost 10%, giving them 21 seats.

Ennahda, which was banned under the former regime, says it has modelled itself on the governing AK party in Turkey, another Muslim-majority country which has remained a secular state.

After results were announced, Mr Ghannouchi pledged that the rights of every Tunisian would be protected by the new authorities.

"We will continue this revolution to realise its aims of a Tunisia that is free, independent, developing and prosperous, in which the rights of God, the Prophet, women, men, the religious and the non-religious are assured because Tunisia is for everyone," Mr Ghannouchi told a crowd of supporters, Reuters reports.

Ennahda has sought to reassure secularists and investors, nervous about the prospect of Islamists holding power in one of the Arab world's most liberal countries, by saying it would not ban alcohol, stop tourists wearing bikinis on the beaches or impose Islamic banking.

Graphic of election results

Foreign tourism is a major source of revenue for Tunisia.

But despite the reassurances, Ennahda's victory is causing concern in some parts of Tunisia, who fear the party could later change their policies, the BBC's Chloe Arnold reports.

Ennahda has put forward its number two, Secretary General Hamadi Jebali, as the next prime minister. Coalition talks with the CPR and Ettakatol parties have already begun.

Mr Jebali, 62, is an engineer by training and a former journalist. He was a co-founder of Ennahda.

The polls were Tunisia's first democratic elections, and followed the fall of President Ben Ali, who was overthrown in January after mass demonstrations. He had been in power for 23 years.

Unlike that of its eastern neighbour Libya, Tunisia's transition from authoritarian rule has been largely peaceful.

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