Africa Union

Polls open in Tunisian parliamentary election boycotted by opposition

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Polls opened on Saturday in a Tunisian parliamentary election that is expected to tighten President Kais Saied's grip on power. The moderate Islamist Ennahda party and other opposition bodies have called for voters to reject the ballot.

Taking place 12 years to the day after vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in an act of protest that sparked the Arab Spring, the vote is being boycotted by opposition parties.

Voters will be choosing members of a parliament whose powers have been largely undermined by a new constitution, which was approved in a July referendum and backed by Saied in an effort to shift Tunisia back towards a presidential system.

Saied, a former law lecturer who was a political independent when elected president in 2019, suspended the previous parliament last year, surrounding the legislature with tanks and assuming near-total authority.

The legislative vote appears to have stirred little interest among a population jaded by political dysfunction and still struggling with economic hardship.

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With the main parties absent, a total of 1,058 candidates – only 120 of them women – are running for 161 seats.

For 10 of those – seven in Tunisia and three decided by expatriate voters – there is just one candidate. Another seven of the seats decided by expatriate voters have no candidates running at all.

The election is taking place against the backdrop of an economic crisis that is fueling poverty, leading many to attempt the perilous journey to Europe aboard smugglers' boats that often fail to make the crossing safely.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters)

Artmotion S.Africa

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