Essebsi Declares Win in Tunisia Election, Rival Contests

88-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi has claimed victory in Tunisia's landmark presidential runoff that was held on Sunday.

Polling firms gave Essebsi, from the anti-Islamist Nidaa Tounes party, 55.5 percent of the vote and his opponent, incumbent President, Moncef Marzouki, 44.5 percent.

Essebsi's campaign director, Mohsen Marzouk:

"I have the honour today after the polling stations closed of announcing that the information we have from the polling stations indicate the victory of Mr Beji Caid Essebsi in the second round of the presidential elections."

But Marzouki's campaign director says the numbers are too close to call.

It's the first election to be held since the political and social turmoil in late 2010 and early 2011.

People hoped the election would bring about real change to the country.

"It's a very important day for us. The proof is that I'm very sick and I still came to vote at the last minute. I hope people will choose the right president, the one who will answer to the demands of the Tunisian people."

Observers say turnout was lower than expected at about 56 per cent, but reported no major fraud in the electoral process.

The official result is expected to be announced in the next couple of days.