World

Tunisia awaits official election results as press hails victory for old regime official

  • A supporter holds a poster of Tunisian presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi as he celebrates after the first results following the second round of the country's presidential election, in Tunis, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Tunisian polling firms have declared Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old official from previous regimes, as the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, cementing his dominance over a country where his party already controls Parliament. (AP Photos/Hassene Dridi)

    A supporter holds a poster of Tunisian presidential candidate Beji Caid Essebsi as he celebrates after the first results following the second round of the country's presidential election, in Tunis, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Tunisian polling firms have declared Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old official from previous regimes, as the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, cementing his dominance over a country where his party already controls Parliament. (AP Photos/Hassene Dridi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Tunisian presidential candidate Moncef Marzouki makes the V sign prior to give a speech, after the second round of the country's presidential election, in Tunis, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Tunisian polling firms have declared Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old official from previous regimes, as the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, cementing his dominance over a country where his party already controls Parliament. (AP Photo/Ilyess Osmane)

    Tunisian presidential candidate Moncef Marzouki makes the V sign prior to give a speech, after the second round of the country's presidential election, in Tunis, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Tunisian polling firms have declared Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old official from previous regimes, as the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, cementing his dominance over a country where his party already controls Parliament. (AP Photo/Ilyess Osmane)  (The Associated Press)

  • Tunisian presidential candidate Moncef Marzouki gives a speech, after the second round of the country's presidential election, in Tunis, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Tunisian polling firms have declared Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old official from previous regimes, as the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, cementing his dominance over a country where his party already controls Parliament. (AP Photo/Ilyess Osmane)

    Tunisian presidential candidate Moncef Marzouki gives a speech, after the second round of the country's presidential election, in Tunis, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. Tunisian polling firms have declared Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old official from previous regimes, as the winner of Sunday's presidential runoff, cementing his dominance over a country where his party already controls Parliament. (AP Photo/Ilyess Osmane)  (The Associated Press)

Newspapers in Tunisia have followed exit polls in proclaiming an 88-year-old former minister the winner of the presidential election.

Official results are expected later Monday but polls immediately after voting ended gave Beji Caid Essebsi around 55 percent of the vote.

The election ends four years of transition to democracy after Tunisians overthrew their long-ruling dictator.

The Tunisian observer group Mourakiboun on Tuesday gave similar estimates to Essebsi, who served as a minister under Tunisia's first president.

His competitor, human rights activist and outgoing interim president Moncef Marzouki, has yet to concede the election, however.

Voting was largely pronounced free and fair with a participation rate of 59 percent, less than the nearly 70 percent in the previous round and legislative elections in October.