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Former Regime Figure Elected President In Tunisia

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Today, Tunisia has its first president elected by popular vote, a man from the old regime. Four years ago, Tunisians started a wave of protests that toppled dictators around the Middle East and Tunisia has managed to avoid the chaos seen in other countries. NPR's Leila Fadel filed this report on the reaction in the country today.

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LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Tunisians waved flags and honked horns after preliminary results were announced. Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old French-educated lawyer, will be the new president of Tunisia. He got over 55 percent of the vote. Although he served in the regime that Tunisians ousted, his voters said they're tired of uncertainty and weary of the chaos in the countries around them.

LOTFI RAFRAF: (Foreign language spoken).

FADEL: Lotfi Rafraf is a soccer coach. He says bring back the old regime, as long as I have security and stability.

There have been political assassinations and unemployment is on the rise, so many Tunisians opted for something familiar and even possibly authoritarian rather than revolutionary. Losing-candidate Mancef Marzouki called on his supporters to accept the outcome of a vote for the country's first president chosen by the people. Leila Fadel, NPR News, Tunis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.