Polls open in Tunisian vote boycotted by opposition By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tunisian President Kais Saied arrives to fulfill with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) through the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on the Walter E. Washington Conference Heart in Washington, D.C, U.S., December 14, 2022. Mandel Ng

By Tarek Amara and Angus McDowall

TUNIS (Reuters) – Polls opened for a parliamentary election in Tunisia on Saturday, a vote boycotted by political events that see it as capping President Kais Saied’s march to one-man rule over a rustic that shook off dictatorship in 2011.

As Saied urged Tunisians to solid ballots on what he referred to as a historic day, there was no signal of queues or voting at three polling stations visited by Reuters simply after they opened, a distinction with different post-revolution elections.

Happening 12 years to the day after vegetable vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on hearth in an act of protest that sparked the Arab Spring, the election has appeared to stir little curiosity amongst Tunisians combating financial hardship and jaded by years of political dysfunction.

“Why ought to I vote? … I’m not satisfied by this election,” stated Abdl Hamid Naji, sitting in a restaurant close to a polling station within the Lafayette neighbourhood of the capital Tunis because it opened at 8:00 a.m. (0700 GMT).

“What’s going to this parliament do?” he requested. “Within the earlier elections, I used to be the primary to reach… However now I am not .”

Saied, a former legislation lecturer who was a political impartial when elected president in 2019, shut down the earlier parliament and began ruling by decree in July 2021, step by step amassing increasingly energy.

His opponents, together with the Islamist Ennahda celebration, accuse him of a coup.

There have been extra journalists than voters on the Rue de Marseille polling station in Tunis, which has been packed from early within the day in earlier elections held within the post-revolution interval.

Faouzi Ayarai, who did vote there, was optimistic. “These elections are a chance to repair the unhealthy scenario left by others over the previous years,” she stated.

At one other polling station an aged man who gave his title as Habib stated he had solely voted regardless of misgivings as a result of he objected to the requires a boycott.

“On this district we now have just one candidate operating. I voted however I am not satisfied,” he stated.


A brand new structure, handed with a low turnout in a July referendum, has defanged parliament and shifted energy again to the presidential palace in Carthage from which Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali dominated with an iron fist earlier than being ousted in 2011.

Nejib Chebbi, head of an anti-Saied coalition together with the Islamist Ennahda celebration, a serious drive within the earlier parliament, has labelled the election a “still-born farce”.

Saied has described it as a part of a roadmap for ending the chaos and corruption he says Tunisia below the earlier system.

Casting his vote together with his spouse, he urged Tunisians to do likewise. “It’s your historic alternative to regain your reputable rights,” he stated.

However I Watch, a non-governmental watchdog organisation shaped after the 2011 revolution, stated the brand new parliament had been “emptied of all powers”.

Al Bawsala, one other NGO that has monitored the work of parliament because the revolution, has stated it would boycott a legislature that it too believes can be an instrument for the president.

The election is going down towards the backdrop of an financial disaster that’s fuelling poverty, main many to try the perilous journey to Europe aboard smugglers’ boats.

With the primary events absent, a complete of 1,058 candidates – solely 120 of them girls – are operating for 161 seats.

For 10 of these – seven in Tunisia and three determined by expatriate voters – there is only one candidate. An additional seven of the seats determined by expatriate voters don’t have any candidates operating in any respect.

The polls are attributable to shut at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT).

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