Tunisia’s newly-elected parliament held its first session on Tuesday in capital Tunis. Ali bin Salem, the assembly’s oldest parliamentarian, led the session after a brief opening statement by Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the head of the country’s outgoing Constituent Assembly. “Tunisia has managed to secure a peaceful power transfer in a fluid and civilised manner that will ensure the gradual introduction of democratic traditions,” he told deputies, after singing the national anthem. In the session parliamentarians voted to elect a speaker and two deputies and established a committee to draft the new assembly’s bylaws. … At this stage Nidaa Tounes’ leader Beji Caid Essebsi leads incumbent leftist politician Moncef Marzouki by 39.4 percent to 33.4 percent, or 1.9 million votes against 1.1 million votes. Marzouki contested the legitimacy of the outcome citing “attempts to prevent him from casting his ballot, breaches of regulations on electoral silence, and lack of neutrality along with fraud and forgery.” However, his appeal was thrown out of court on Monday: “The court told [Marzouki’s] campaign orally that the appeal has been rejected,” his campaign director Genidi Taleb told Anadolu Agency (AA). He said that Marzouki’s campaign will meet later to discuss the court decision.
Election commission member Nabil Bafoun said that the court will issue a written verdict on Tuesday. He said if Marzouki deicded not to challenge the court decision, the second round of the polls will be held on 14 December. “If the decision is challenged, the vote will be held on December 21,” he added. The second round of voting will see a runoff between Marzouki and Nidaa Tounes’ Essebsi.