Meet the new Tunisia President, Essebsi (88-year old)

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Newly elected Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi will be sworn in Wednesday at a ceremony in parliament, which is dominated by his anti-Islamist Nidaa Tounes party, officials said.

The election of Essebsi, an 88-year-old who served under previous regimes, is seen as a landmark for the birthplace of the Arab Spring that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali four years ago.

Essebsi’s victory over outgoing president Moncef Marzouki capped Tunisia’s sometimes troubled transition to democracy and has won praise from Western leaders.

Essebsi told parliament he would be “the president of all Tunisians” and “the guarantor of national unity”.

“There is no future for Tunisia without consensus among political parties and members of civil society,” he said. “There is no future for Tunisia without national reconciliation.”

His victory over incumbent Moncef Marzouki rounded off Tunisia’s transition to democracy and has won praise from Western leaders. On Monday, the electoral committee confirmed that Essebsi took 55.68% of the vote in a 21 December run-off against Marzouki.

After Essebsi is sworn in, Marzouki will formally hand over power to him at the presidential palace in Carthage, a suburb of Tunis. The presidential vote was the first time Tunisians have freely elected their head of state since independence in 1956.

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