Tunisia court orders release of presidential candidate Nabil Karoui

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Tunisia’s presidential candidate Nabil Karoui was released from prison and given a hero’s reception by supporters on Wednesday, four days ahead of a run-off election.

Karoui, a media mogul, was detained in August before the first round of the election and has spent the entire campaign period in prison pending a verdict in his trial for money laundering and tax evasion, which he denies.

Last week, interim president Mohamed Ennaceur said Karoui’s detention and inability to campaign had damaged the credibility of the election. Election watchdogs had also called for his release saying there could be no fair vote if he was detained.

Tunisia’s electoral commission has itself warned that Karoui could appeal against the result if he loses as he has been denied equal opportunity to communicate with voters, and that the result could be annulled.

In the meantime, the moderate Islamist Ennahda will be the largest party in Tunisia’s new parliament, preliminary official results showed on Wednesday, but with only 52 of 217 seats it may struggle to build a governing coalition.

The results, along with those in the first round of a separate presidential election last month, appear to underscore dissatisfaction with the major parties.

Though Ennahda came first, it has 17 fewer seats than it won in the last parliamentary election in 2014, when it came second to a secular coalition which has since fallen apart.

 

Via France 24

 

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