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Tunisian candidates kick off campaigns

By Mona Yahia for Magharebia from Tunis – 13/10/09

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Days ahead of Tunisia's presidential and legislative elections on October 25th, political campaigns got under way on Sunday (October 11th). Four candidates are competing for the presidency and eight parties are jostling for spots in the 214-seat Chamber of Deputies.

President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of the ruling Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD) chose the day to begin his presidential campaign for a fifth term, delivering a speech to thousands of supporters. He used the occasion to outline his platform, which includes developing the media and creating a youth parliament, and pledge fairness in this year's elections.

Besides Ben Ali, the Tunisian Constitutional Council approved three other presidential candidates: Mohamed Bouchiha of the Popular Unity Party (PUP), Ahmed Innoubli of the Unionist Democratic Union, and Ahmed Ibrahim of the Ettajdid Movement.

Not every opposition party is participating. The Progressive Democratic Party, headed by Maya Jribi, announced on Sunday that it was pulling out of the legislative races due to what it called a "lack of the necessary requirements for participation".

The remaining parties began the first day of campaigning by placing candidates' pictures, party posters and manifestos in locations set aside for electoral materials. Party workers also distributed flyers to voters

However, some of the spaces designated for party materials remained empty, either because some parties found the locations inaccessible or because their manifestos and pictures of candidates were confiscated. The Ettajdid Movement claimed that this was the case for their presidential candidate, Ahmed Ibrahim.

Party member Sofiene Chourabi claimed on Facebook that Tunisian authorities confiscated Ibrahim's manifestos and demanded the deletion of five whole paragraphs. They also reportedly confiscated campaign pictures of Ibrahim.

Tunisian authorities have yet to comment on the allegations.

Ettajdid Movement members also complained that authorities seized the last edition of its at-Tarikal al- Jadid newspaper. According to party members, Interior Ministry agents collected all copies of the newspaper in the printing house on Saturday and told the printing house owner that the edition was being confiscated

A source interviewed by the Tunis News Agency said that under the Electoral Law and the Press Law, authorities confiscated the issue because it included manifestos that were published without completing the necessary legal submission procedures.

Other opposition parties chose to launch their campaigns outside of Tunis, as was the case with the socialist PUP. The Popular Unity Party kicked off its races from the Central Tunisia city of Kairouan.

Supporters of various other parties were seen parading through Tunisian streets, carrying party banners.

RCD candidates began their campaigning under normal circumstances. RCD legislative candidate Hedi Jilani met with supporters on Sunday in the Bab Souika area. Party activists assembled around the candidate, wearing the signature red RCD scarves, singing party songs and carrying pictures of President Ben Ali.

"We'll dedicate all our energy to making our candidates win by a huge margin," said Mourad, who supports the RCD's candidates.

All of the candidates have recorded speeches that will be aired on Tunisian radio and television stations throughout the campaign period, which is slated to end October 23rd.

The speeches are being broadcast from Monday (October 12th) through Friday (October 23rd). Radio stations will broadcast the speeches at 4:00 PM, while speeches will be aired on television starting at 5:00 PM.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    ربح بوساحه 2011-10-23

    I would like to register in order to vote.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    sofiene 2010-6-15

    That which you call a democratic election has lost its principle, because every time someone rises up and take the risk to arouse us, you stifle and smother them. These two gentlemen are completely right. Unfortunately, our country is committed to a system that quite severely imitated that of our dear, dear Bourguiba.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    Nate 2009-10-14

    Tunisia is wasting money on these elections. They are a show about nothing... If they were fair, i would suport them and justify the spending of the people hard earned tax money, but since there are hunderds of thousands of unemployed, hungry, and homeless people in the country, spending millions of dollars simply to hide the fact that there is no democracy in Tunisia is simply ludicrous. Ben Ali's elections are a joke!


  4. Anonymous thumb

    Anonymous 2009-10-13

    Tunisia is the only country in the world where we know ahead of time the number of seats that will go to the “good opposition”, which stood in the “transparent parliamentary elections”. This number, announced a month in advance, is 53, and it represents 25% of the total. President Ben Ali decided this in his generosity. In addition, he is going to guarantee the transparency of the election “this year”. We cannot, anymore, be transparent as that. So, it is 53 and not one less – but not one more, either. In a democratic country, you respect the electoral laws, especially when a president who respects the constitution democratically decrees them. From this point of view, I have no comment to make. What bothers me is to read that the RCD partisans are winning the elections according to presidential decrees, wearing red scarves. I have nothing against this colour, but I would have preferred that in place of scarves, they wear clown noses – red clown noses, of course, for the colour of the RCD. This would offer more prestige to this event, which takes place every five years. This could make the Tunisian elections a serious competitor with Carnival in Rio. Brazil’s advertising exploits Carnival as a tourist attraction, but no one has yet exploited an electoral masquerade for the same purpose. I can imagine quite clearly the posters in the Tunisian Office of Tourism throughout the world, with red clown noses and the text “Come visit Tunisia and its electoral masquerade! It is a one-of-a-kind event every five years!” I have no doubt about the success. If my prediction proves accurate with the election “this year”, we can do away with it happening every five years and replace it with a yearly masquerade for everyone’s pleasure.