Tunisia: Unrest Surfaces Amid Election Irregularities
As reports emerged that Tunisia’s Ennahda party had won a plurality (41%) of seats in the Constituent Assembly, elections chief Kamel Jendoubi announced the invalidation of six candidates’ lists of the Aridha Chaabia (People’s Petition for Justice and Development) party, which had its initial claim of 25 assembly seats reduced to 19, due to “financial irregularities” and allegations that the party campaigned at an illegal time. The party is headed by Mohamed Hechmi Hamdi, a London-based businessman, and has been accused of having ties to ousted autocrat Ben Ali. Hamdi withdrew from the assembly in protest of the decision.
The announcement sparked unrest in the city of Sidi Bouzid, where one of the party’s seats was eliminated, and reports surfaced detailing shots fired into the air and the use of tear gas against crowds. Ennahda’s leadership appealed for calm in the town, and the party has started talks with rival parties on forming a coalition government. Amid the unrest, Rachid Ghannouchi promised to strengthen the role of women in Tunisian politics.