World Bulletin/News Desk
Tunisian presidential hopeful Moncef Marzouki said Friday that the victory of his presidential rival, Beji Caid Essebsi, in upcoming polls "would bring Tunisia back to square one."
Marzouki, who currently serves as Tunisia's interim president, said his candidacy was not driven merely by a desire to hold highest office, stressing that his main reason for contesting the race was because he "sensed the return of the old regime [of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali]."
"Essebsi's victory [at the polls] would bring the country back to square one and ensure the return of the old regime, in which case Tunisia would lose everything that it has achieved in the three years since the revolution," Marzouki said at a political rally in the northern town of Beja.
"Most importantly," he added, "Tunisia would lose its freedom."
"The [upcoming] electoral battle will be crucial. We'll either move forward or revert back to square one," he added.
Marzouki asserted that Tunisia's old regime "is making a major comeback," adding, "It hasn't yet learned a lesson."
He went on to say that "voting for the old regime in the [presidential] runoff would be suicide."
He also noted that, over the past three years, Tunisians had become "a free people," which, he said, had not been the case during the 50 years that preceded them, and which could very well be lost in the upcoming stage.
Essebsi's opponents accuse him of including former Ben Ali officials in the ranks of his Nidaa Tounes party.
Essebsi, for his part, rejects these assertions, saying that these officials – despite having belonged to the old regime – had not been implicated in any corruption or wrongdoing.
Electoral campaigning for the runoff vote kicked off on Tuesday – both in Tunisia and abroad – and will end on December 19, according to regulations set by Tunisia's electoral commission.
The runoff will see Marzouki, who came in second in last month's first-round vote, face off against Essebsi, leader of the centrist Nidaa Tounes party, who came in at first place with 39.4 percent of the vote.
The runoff vote will be held on December 21 in Tunisia and on December 19, 20 and 21 overseas.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Aralık 2014, 12:34