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Tunisians prepare for crucial presidential run-off

Saturday, December 20, 2014 - 01:59

Supporters of the incumbent and his rival rally ahead of a crucial run off vote that could cement Tunisia's transition to full democracy. Mana Rabiee reports.

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Tunisian's are getting ready for the second round of a crucial presidential election. They toppled autocrat Ben Ali in 2011 and helped inspire the Arab Spring revolts. On Sunday, they'll hold a run off vote for their first DIRECTLY elected president .... the FINAL step in the North African state's transition to full democracy. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FAREED, A TUNISIAN CITIZEN, SAYING: "I hope that the person who will be in charge of the country will serve it, will take care of the young people and combat terrorism. The most important thing is to look after the young people." It hasn't been an easy choice. The incumbent, Moncef Marzouki, is a human rights activist, but his critics tie him to the Islamist-led government that took office in 2011. His challenger is 88-year-old Beji Caid, the leader of a secular party but, also, a former official of the toppled Ben Ali regime. He's recast himself as a veteran 'statesman' with the experience Tunisia needs after three years of instability. But some here worry about the return of old regime officials. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BAKEER, A TUNISIAN CITIZEN, SAYING : "The most important thing for the next president is that he works for the benefit of Tunisia not for his own benefit. And that we don't go back to what we have experienced under Ben Ali " (nats more music) To win, both candidates need support from a range of voters -- Islamists, liberals, left-wing parties -- all of which fielded candidates. But compromise is something Tunisia's has learned to do. Last year, Islamist and secular rivals overcame a crisis and approved a new constitution, and the country's been held up as a model of democratic change. This, in a region where neighbors -- like Libya -- are still caught up in the turmoil of their own toppled regime.

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Tunisians prepare for crucial presidential run-off

Saturday, December 20, 2014 - 01:59