UPDATES WITH REMARKS BY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE KAROUI
By Adel Al-Thabiti
TUNIS (AA) – Tunisia’s independent candidate Kais Saied has secured more than 72% of votes in the presidential election held on Sunday, said an exit polls agency.
According to Amrod agency, business tycoon Nabil Karoui gained 27.4% of the votes in the election.
In a speech, Saied claimed victory and thanked his supporters for votes.
"We are entering a new stage in Tunisian history and we will take up all the challenges with our determination," he said.
Saied went on to affirm that Tunisia "will continue to abide by international agreements and covenants" during his tenure.
After assuming the office of president, Saied said, he will visit Algeria in his first foreign tour and wished to visit the war-torn Libya “soon”.
His victory speech came amid celebrations by thousands of Tunisians.
Karoui, for his part, admitted his loss in the elections.
In a speech he delivered to his supporters in his electoral campaign headquarters, Karoui said that he was deprived of communicating with his supporters due to his imprisonment.
Karoui was arrested in August on charges of money laundering and tax evasion before he was released earlier this month.
However, he thanked his supporters and all Tunisians for the success of the electoral process.
Tunisians went to polling stations on Sunday to vote for the country's second elected president since the 2011 uprising.
Polling stations opened nationwide at 8 a.m. local time (0700GMT) and were shut at 5 p.m. (1600GMT).
More than 7 million Tunisians were eligible to cast ballots in Sunday's vote, according to the country's electoral commission.
The winner of Sunday's vote will replace Tunisia's first freely elected President Beji Caid Essebsi, who died last July.