Last week marked another big step towards democracy for Tunisia. Kais Saied, a political outsider and retired law professor, won the presidential election with a landslide victory. The Robot, as he is affectionately called, was sworn in as Tunisian president on Wednesday, 23rd of October. His win delivered a heavy blow to a governing elite accused of failing to improve living standards or end corruption since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy after years of authoritarian rule. Below are excerpts of an article from Al Jazeera. Enjoy!
Kais Saied has been sworn in as Tunisia‘s new president.
The 61-year-old law professor has no prior political experience, never held office and barely ran a campaign.
Saied sealed a resounding victory in a runoff election on October 13, largely buoyed by a groundswell of support from young voters. He won just over 72 percent of the votes, with about 27 percent of ballots cast for his media-mogul opponent Nabil Karoui.
He succeeds former President Beji Caïd Essebsi, Tunisia’s First Democratically Elected President, who died in office in July.
A perhaps unlikely aspiring leader in the Arab world, the austere and scholarly Saied stood apart from the other 25 candidates in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election.
After winning that round, he announced he would not campaign ahead of the run-off election against then-imprisoned Karoui, saying it would give him an “unfair advantage”.
Observers say it’s that openness and obsession with equity that has connected with Tunisia’s youth, who, above all, see Saied as an honest leader offering them the keys to the nation’s future.
During his meteoric rise, Saied vowed to fight corruption and promote social justice, while saying access to healthcare and water is part of national security and that education would “immunise” youth against extremism.
[…] Selim Kharrat, president of Tunisian NGO Al Bawsala, said Saied’s popularity was in part fuelled by disenfranchisement with a political system that has failed to address core economic needs.
“The current atmosphere where many politicians are caught up in corruption scandals has helped this seemingly simple man,” Kharrat told Al Jazeera after the first round of elections.
Saied’s unadorned profile has stood in stark contrast to that of Karoui, who was arrested in late August on money-laundering and tax evasion charges, Kharrat said.
“He’s received no funding from any of the big parties or abroad, notably the better-off Arab Gulf countries, and this has shielded him from any suspicion,” he added.