Tunisia presidential elections
Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of Tunisia's secular Nidaa Tounes party and a presidential candidate, casts his vote at a polling station in Tunis.Reuters

Beji Caid Essebsi has won Tunisia's first ever free presidential election, beating rival Moncef Marzouki with 55.68% of the vote, according to official results.

The vote saw the final step in Tunisia's move towards democracy after the Arab Spring saw the ousting of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, inspiring further uprisings across the Arab world.

Essebsi, a former official in Ben Ali's regime, won the election as a technocrat and his secular party won support following public opposition to the ruling Islamist government.

"I dedicate my victory to the martyrs of Tunisia. I thank Marzouki, and now we should work together without excluding anyone," the 88-year-old former parliament speaker told a local television channel.

Opponents say that the 88-year-old's win is a return to the tainted establishment of Ben Ali but Essebsi has called on all Tunisians to "work together" for the sake of the country.

Marzouki, 67, had earlier refused to admit defeat in the election and had opposed an Essebsi election as a reverse of the "Jasmine Revolution" of 2011.