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Tunisia sets date for Presidential election

todayJuly 3, 2024 5

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Tunisia is set to hold presidential elections on Oct. 6, a vote that may prove a litmus test for democracy in the North African country whose populist leader has seized sweeping powers and cracked down on dissent. The state-run TAP news agency reports that President Kais Saied issued an order Tuesday setting the date, with the election commission due to convene later this week to approve a calendar and rules for candidates.

Saied, known for his expertise in constitutional matters, assumed full control of the country in 2021, governing through decrees after dismissing the prime minister and parliament, resulting in the imprisonment of many of his critics.

In 2022, he secured approval for a new constitution via referendum, establishing a presidential system that curtails parliamentary authority.

“Today, July 2, 2024, the president issued a decree summoning voters for a presidential election scheduled for Sunday, October 6, 2024,” stated Saied’s office.

The AFP news agency reports that the political turmoil stemming from his power consolidation has had a severe impact on Tunisia’s economy, with unemployment at 15% and approximately four million out of 12 million citizens living in poverty.

A crackdown on media has led to over 60 journalists, lawyers, and political opponents facing legal action, according to the National Union of Tunisian Journalists. In May, Saied unexpectedly replaced the interior and social affairs ministers amid a wave of arrests targeting activists, lawyers, and journalists.

Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $2 billion loan have stalled since the 2021 power shift, with Saied rejecting the IMF’s reform demands.

However, in June, the European Investment Bank announced grants and loans totaling 450 million euros ($480 million) to support infrastructure projects and small to mid-sized businesses.

Written by: Tonata Kadhila

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