Tunisians head to polling stations to vote in first free municipal elections

Tunisians head to the polling stations on Sunday for the first free municipal elections since the 2011 revolution.

It is an additional milestone on the road to democracy for Tunisia and its people.

Municipal polls have been delayed four times due to logistic, administrative and political deadlocks.

“This Sunday will not be like other days. For the first time the Tunisian people are called to participate in municipal elections, something that seems simple but it is very important,” President Caid Essebsi said on Saturday.

President Essebsi, casting his ballot in the Tunis suburb of Soukra, insisted that Tunisia has taken the right path. “Democracy is not imposed but is exercised, and we are in the process of enshrining that every day,” he said.

Turnout appeared low, with just 13 percent taking part by midday, according to Independent Higher Authority for the Elections (ISIE).

“Tunisia’s municipal elections are a historic step, which lead to a participatory democracy to a local level, where daily problems are managed and where citizens can really make their voices heard,” said the head of the European Union’s observer mission, Fabio Massimo Castaldo.

Observers note that the independent candidates could perform well, after Ennahdha and Nida Tounes party, the ruling coalition of the central government.

Preliminary results are expected Monday which are expected to give an idea of political tendencies ahead of presidential and legislative elections next year.

TunisianMonitorOnline (MNHN)

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