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Tunisians vote in historic first free elections

Arab World Materials 23 October 2011 11:02
Tunisians go to the polls Sunday in the country's first ever free elections, nine months after a revolution that forced out the country's dictator, setting an example for the entire Arab world.
Tunisians vote in historic first free elections

Tunisians go to the polls Sunday in the country's first ever free elections, nine months after a revolution that forced out the country's dictator, setting an example for the entire Arab world, DPA reported.

Around 11,000 candidates are competing in the election of a 217-member constituent assembly, which will draw up a new constitution, under which presidential and parliamentary elections will be held.

Polling stations across the country of 10.6 million people were scheduled to open at 7 am (0600 GMT) for 12 hours of voting. Independents account for nearly half of the 1,519 lists of candidates submitted.

The election is expected to be dominated by the few parties that have a national profile: the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, the secular Progressive Democratic Party and the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties, Ettakatol.

Polls show Ennahda, which was banned by ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, likely to top the poll, with between 20 and 30 per cent of the vote.

Only around 55 per cent of around 7 million eligible voters are registered to vote. The election commission has said the remainder will be allowed to vote with their ID card.

Around 500 foreign election observers have been deployed to monitor the election.

Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi has warned of a fresh revolt in the event of an attempt to manipulate the result.

The first results are expected Sunday evening, but the final result is not expected until Monday.

Tunisia's month-long Jasmine Revolution, which was driven by frustration over state repression, corruption and unemployment, culminated in Ben Ali's flight into exile in Saudi Arabia. Around 200 people were killed during the uprising, mostly unarmed demonstrators.

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