TUNISIA

Nation prepares for polls to open in presidential election

Tunisians vote on Sunday in a election almost certain to hand a new term to President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the 73-year-old who has run the North African country for more than two decades.

Advertising

REUTERS - Tunisians vote on Sunday in a election almost certain to hand a new term to President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the 73-year-old who has run the North African country for over two decades.

International rights groups say the government has ensured victory by harassing the opposition, an allegation Ben Ali said was part of a campaign of lies by opponents who were betraying their own country.

Western governments view mainly Muslim Tunisia as one of their closest allies in the Arab world and a moderate bulwark against Islamist extremism.

At home, many voters credit Ben Ali with making Tunisia which attracts millions of European tourists each summer one of the most prosperous and stable states in a region that suffers from poverty and political turmoil.

“I will vote on Sunday for Ben Ali. We trust him because he has honestly done everything he promised,” said an unemployed man who gave his name as Aymen. “It is true I’m unemployed, but there is no alternative to Ben Ali.”

The Tunisian president, who came to power in 1987 when doctors declared his predecessor unfit to rule, won the last election five years ago with 94.4 percent of the vote.

 

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning