More than 9.2 million Tunisians are eligible to attend the first constitutional referendum in the history of that African country, which takes place this Monday after being convened last June by President Kais Saied.
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According to the media, more than 11,000 centers were set up for voting in Tunisia and other nations, in which 348,876 nationals living in the diaspora are registered.
Schools opened at 6:00 a.m. and will close at 10:00 p.m. local time to allow for more voter turnout. Thousands of national and foreign observers supervise the process, while some 84,000 agents guard the voting centers.
According to press reports, the referendum is going smoothly, although there is little turnout at the polls. The Superior Independent Electoral Instance published that as of 9:30 a.m. local time, only 564,753 voters had voted (6.32 percent of those registered).
Newspaper reports realize that the referendum raises controversy. The country is in a state of emergency and its Parliament was dissolved a year ago by the president, who dismissed the then prime minister, Hichem Mechichi.
Sectors of Tunisian society objected to these decisions and accused Saied of carrying out a coup and wanting to assume dictatorial powers.
During the referendum, citizens must answer whether or not they accept a constitutional draft that, although it was published in a Tunisian newspaper on June 30, was drawn up behind closed doors and not by a constitutional convention, as happened with the current Constitution, drawn up in 2014 in an open process.
Media outlets point out that, according to jurists, the draft introduces an ultra-presidential system and leaves no guarantees for the separation of powers. Nor has it been publicly specified when the results should be available.
When exercising the vote in the city of Ariana, near Tunis (capital), Saied accused the opposition of boycotting the referendum, for which they have set fires in various areas of the country and paid citizens not to go vote, according to said.
He expressed that the opponents, whom he called traitors sold to foreign interests, sow desperation so that the people move away from public affairs.
In addition, he pointed out that “these conspiracies have been taking place since January 2011”, referring to the protests that in that year forced the resignation of President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, framed during the events known as the Arab Spring.
Disclaimer: Via Telesur – Translated by RJ983
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