31 December 2014
Last updated at 12:26
Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi has pledged to work towards national reconciliation after winning the country’s first free election.
After taking his oath of office, he told parliament he would be “the president of all Tunisians”.
The 88-year-old secured victory last week over incumbent Moncef Marzouki.
Mr Essebsi was speaker of parliament under President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in 2011 in the first “Arab Spring” uprising.
Tunisia is the only Arab country to have moved from authoritarian rule to democracy since a wave of popular uprisings spread across the region.
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Tunisia presidential elections
voted for Beji Caid Essebsi
voted for Moncef Marzouki
Votes cast: 3,110,048
On Monday, electoral authorities confirmed that Mr Essebsi had won a run-off vote against Mr Marzouki.
Mr Essebsi’s secular Nidaa Tounes also won the largest number of seats in parliament, defeating the moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, in October’s elections.
“There is no future for Tunisia without consensus among political parties and members of civil society,” Mr Essebsi said in his inaugural speech.
His critics say his election victory marks the return of the former establishment, pointing out that he served under President Ben Ali, and was also interior minister under the country’s first president Habib Bourguiba.
Beji Caid Essebsi
- 88-year-old lawyer and politician
- Studied law in Paris
- Interior minister under Habib Bourguiba, Tunisia’s first president after independence
- Speaker of parliament under ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali
- Interim prime minister in 2011 after the uprising
- Founder of secular-leaning Nidaa Tounes party in 2014
- Supported by both trade unions and some business groups
Journalist Naveena Kottoor in Tunis says that while this is a democratic milestone for Tunisia, many in the country are arguing that political transition will only succeed if newly-elected politicians usher in social and economic changes.
This month’s vote was the first time Tunisians have been able to vote freely for their president since independence from France in 1956.
The new president will have restricted powers under a constitution passed earlier this year.
He will be commander-in-chief of the armed forces but can appoint or sack senior officers only in consultation with the prime minister.