Tunisia candidate refuses to concede

TUNIS - Moncef Marzouki has refused to admit defeat in Tunisia's first free presidential election after exit polls suggested Beji Caid Essebsi had won.

The caretaker president, a former exile, said his rival's declaration of victory was "undemocratic".

Mr Essebsi, 88, has been celebrating with supporters, telling them all Tunisians now need to "work together", and promising to bring stability.

Critics say his success marks the return of a discredited establishment.

Official results are not expected until Monday evening. One exit poll gave Mr Essebsi 55.5%, with several others showing similar figures.

The election marks the last stage of Tunisia's move to democracy, after the 2011 overthrow of President Zine el-Abedine Ben Ali.

It is the first time Tunisians have been able vote freely for their president since independence from France in 1956.

Mr Marzouki, a 67-year-old human rights activist forced into exile by the Ben Ali government, said the election was too early to call.

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