6:58 am - Sunday September 23, 2018

3 years after Arab Spring, Tunisia holds first poll

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TUNIS : Tunisians expressed tentative hope for the future as they lined up on Sunday to choose their first five-year parliament since they overthrew their dictator in the 2011 revolution that kicked off the Arab Spring.

The past three and a half years have been marked by political turmoil, terrorist attacks and a faltering economy which has brought disillusionment to many over the democratic process, even though Tunisia is widely seen as the country that has the best chance for democracy in the Arab world.

Many polling stations reported high turnouts and long lines early in the day. “We are proud to vote. It’s our duty as citizens and I am optimistic,” said Zeinab Turabi, a lawyer in the affluent Tunis neighbourhood of Sukra. “If you don’t vote, you’ll get Libya,” he added, referring to the neighbouring country which has been taken hostage by violent militias since the downfall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. At polling stations in the 27 districts across Tunisia, citizens have a bewildering array of candidates laid out on enormous ballots, though the Islamist Ennahda Party is expected to do well.

Many are also expected to vote for the Nida Tunis party which has been presenting itself as the only force strong enough to stand up to the Islamists. “I am here to vote for democracy and for those who can confront Ennahda, for a modern Tunisia and to keep them from ruling alone,” said Lahimer Salem.

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