Supporters of Tunisian Nidaa Tounes party chief and presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi celebrate after the first results following the second round of the country's first free presidential election, Tunis, December 21, 2014. (AFP/FETHI BELAID)
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Veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi claimed victory in Sunday's Tunisian presidential runoff, seen as the final step to full democracy nearly four years after an uprising ousted autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.A victory for Essebsi, 88, would see the return of a former Ben Ali official to the presidency just four years after the autocrat fled. Essebsi's secular party already leads the parliament after earlier this year defeating the Islamist party that had won Tunisia's first legislative election in 2011 . Essebsi took 39 percent of votes in the first round ballot in November with Marzouki winning 33 percent.Still, compromise has been important in Tunisian politics and Essebsi's Nidaa Tounes Party reached a deal with the Islamist Ennahda Party to overcome a crisis triggered by the murder of two secular leaders last year.
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