Tunis: Official election results have confirmed the emergence of Al Nahda as the new political powerhouse in Tunisia.
At a news conference in Tunis, the head of the Independent High Commission for the Elections said Al Nahda took 41.47 per cent of the vote and carried 90 of the 217 seats in the constituent assembly, the parliament that will write a new constitution, choose an interim president and a caretaker prime minister and prepare for the next elections.
Al Nahda's landslide win is seen as a vindication for the movement founded in 1981, but banned until March 2011.
The party has announced that it would form a coalition government, but would appoint Hamadi Jebali, its 63-year-old secretary general, as the prime minister, in line with parliamentary regimes where the election winner usually leads the government.
The Congress for the Republic Party which emerged as the runner-up, taking 30 seats, has already signalled that it was ready to join the coalition government amid reports that Monsif Marzouki, its secretary-general, was one of three figures who could be appointed as president of the country.
Ettakatol came third with 21 seats, followed by the Popular Petition with 19 seats, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) with 17 seats. The remaining 40 seats were carried by other lists and parties.
The Popular Petition had nine of its seats won in six constituencies eliminated reportedly for breaking the election laws on financing campaigns. One seat in France was invalidated following allegations that the head of the list had an active role within the RCD, the now-defunct party of former leader Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali who was toppled in January.
The announcement of the seat invalidation trigged protests in Sidi Bouzid, in central Tunisia, the birthplace of Hashemi Hamdi, the leader of the movement.
Police had to use tear gas against rioters who set the offices of Al Nahdha ablaze.
Hamdi said that he was withdrawing all lists in reaction to the decision to invalidate the movement's gains.
"It is better that we pull out with dignity," Hamdi said. "We will leave our seats to other parties so that they can take them. I have been terribly pained by the huge amount of insults and slur I have been subject to in the three days following the elections," he reportedly said from London where he owns the Mustaqilla (The Independent) satellite television channel.
Kemal Jendoubi, the head of the elections commission, said that elections results would remain provisional until the administrative court issues its decision on possible appeals. Under the rules, protestors have 48 hours to appeal the results and the court has two weeks to issue its decision.
Jendoubi said that women took 24 per cent of the assembly after they won 49 seats on Sunday.
According to the results, 28 lists will be represented at the constituent assembly, but while 19 party lists will have 203 seats, eight independent lists and one coalition list will have nine and five seats respectively.