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Leader of Tunisian Islamist Party Eyes Prime Minister Role

Hammadi Jebali, secretary-general of Ennahda, Tunisia's largest Islamic movement gestures (file photo).

Members of the Islamist party leading in the vote-counting in Tunisia's historic election say the party intends to name one of its top leaders as its candidate for prime minister.

Media reports on Wednesday say the Ennahda party will propose its secretary general, Hamadi Jebali, as the next head of Tunisia's government.

Tunisian election officials have said they will announce later Wednesday when they will issue the final election results from Sunday's polling. Preliminary results indicate the moderate Ennahda party has captured the most seats in the 217-member assembly.

An election official said Tuesday release of the final results will largely depend on voting-counting in the remaining precincts, especially in the Tunis area.

The Ennahda party has already begun talks on forming an interim unity government with two center-left rivals, the Congress for the Republic and the Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties.

Ennahda candidates have cited as a model the secular, pluralist democracy in Turkey, where the ruling (AKP) party also has an Islamist identity.

Election observers predict that women could capture nearly one-third of the seats in the constituent assembly, a far larger proportion than in any Arab country.

Tunisia's landmark election was widely considered free and fair. The vote came a little more than nine months after Tunisians overthrew longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.