Tunisia election: Choice of new President Beji Caid Essebs is a vote for stability

Mr Essebsi campaigned on restoring stability and the 'prestige of the state' after years of turmoil

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Beji Caid Essebsi, 88, a veteran of the political establishment, has been voted in as President, according to official results in the first full, free presidential election since independence in 1956.

Mr Essebsi campaigned on restoring stability and the “prestige of the state” after years of turmoil that followed the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the Arab Spring of 2011.

It is a measure of the country's yearning for a return to stability after four hard years that a revolution of the youth calling for change and social justice has ended up electing such a symbol of the old regime.

Mr Essebsi, who received 55.68 per cent of the vote, once served as Ben Ali's speaker of parliament and before that was both foreign and interior minister for his predecessor, Habib Bourguiba.

His rival, outgoing interim president Moncef Marzouki, who made his name defending human rights against Ben Ali, received 44.32 per cent of the vote. Exit polls had predicted similar results soon after polls closed on Sunday night.

Voting was largely pronounced free and fair, with a participation rate of 60 per cent, less than the nearly 70 per cent in the previous round and in recent legislative elections.