Tunisia election: Partial results suggest Ennahda win

Ennahda supporters in Tunis, 24 October
Image caption Ennahda has pledged to retain a secular democracy

Partial official results from Tunisia suggest victory for the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, in the first democratic elections prompted by the Arab Spring uprisings.

The electoral commission said Ennahda was well ahead in the vote for a new assembly that will write a constitution and appoint a caretaker government.

However Ennahda is not expected to have an overall majority. Coalition talks with secular parties have begun.

Sunday's vote was hailed by observers.

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

However, unlike its eastern neighbour Libya, Tunisia's transition from authoritarian rule has been largely peaceful.

Caretaker government

On Tuesday the electoral commission said Ennahda had won 15 out of 39 domestic seats declared so far in a new assembly of 217 seats.

This brings Ennahda's total to 24, after the party won nine of the 18 seats reserved for Tunisians living abroad, in results declared on Monday.

The party's leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, has pledged not to set up an Islamist state and to respect multi-party democracy.

Ennahda officials named have named two centre-left secularist groups, the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol, as possible coalition partners.

The CPR is in second place in the vote, officials said. Its leader, Moncef Marzouki, said he was ready to work with Ennahda and others.

"We wish to have a national government as wide as possible with all the parties," he told Reuters news agency.

Ettakatol leader Mustapha Ben Jafaar told AFP news agency coalition talks had already started.

The US and EU have praised Tunisia on the peaceful election process, with President Barack Obama saying the vote was "an important step forward".

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