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Tunisia Votes: First Free Municipal Elections Since 2011
folder_openTunisia access_time4 months ago
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Tunisians head to the polls on Sunday for the first free municipal elections since the 2011 revolution, seen as another milestone on the road to democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.
Yet while the North African country has been lauded for its transition from decades of dictatorship, interest in the poll remains muted as struggles with corruption and poverty continue.
Tunisians have voted in parliamentary and presidential elections since the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but municipal polls have been delayed four times due to logistic, administrative and political deadlocks.
"This Sunday will not be like other days. For the first time the Tunisian people are called to participate in municipal elections, something that seems simple but it is very important," Tunisian President Beiji Caid Essebsi said on Saturday.
Essebsi called for a "massive turnout", but observers expect a low attendance.
Seven years after the ouster of Ben Ali sparked hope across the country, Tunisians say they are now disillusioned with rising inflation, persistent unemployment and corruption.
The country was hit by a wave of protest at the start of the year over a new austerity budget introduced by the government.
The municipal elections, enshrined in the new constitution and one of the demands of the revolution, mark the first tangible step of decentralization since the end of Ben Ali's rule.
More than 57,000 candidates, half of them women and young people, are running for office in Tunisia's 350 municipalities.
Some 60,000 police and military personnel have been mobilized for the polls, while Tunisia remains under a state of emergency, imposed in 2015 after a string of deadly extremist attacks.
Voting runs from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm local time and results are expected in the coming days.
The municipal polls will be followed by legislative and presidential votes in 2019.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team
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