Tunis: Aya dreams of a “new opportunity” for Tunisia. The 23-year-old student stood out for her young age among voters, mostly in their forties, who turned out to vote on Monday in a referendum on President Qais Syed’s new constitution, which his opponents accuse him of wanting to establish. A dictatorship.
The main opposition parties, including Ennahdha, the Islamist movement at the center of power until July 2021, have called for a boycott of the referendum, which they consider “illegitimate”, and are not united. But the poll drew a higher turnout than experts expected, with nearly 28% of the 9 million registered voters voting in a country where polls are traditionally non-voting.
In the evening, groups continued to enter the polling station on rue de l’Inde in the Lafayette district of Tunis, leaving an hour before closing at 9:00 p.m. GMT. “By the end of the afternoon, we saw an increase in participation from all age groups,” said an IC agent at this polling station.
Faced with the country’s “chaotic situation” and in the grip of a severe economic crisis (purchasing power in free fall, very high unemployment, rising poverty), Aya Zemai says she is “hopeful” and confident in the president’s action. To enable “real change”.
Mr. The new constitution, drafted by Syed, breaks the hybrid parliamentary system in place since 2014 and establishes super-presidential rule.
Arguing about the lack of governance in the country, the constitutionalist Mr. Syed’s “tailor”, the opposition assures, “legitimises the conspiracy”. By decree, the country that was the cradle of the Arab Spring.
“Until the End”
Many NGOs have criticized the lack of safeguards for freedom, which they fear will lead to a return to autocratic rule, as was the case under Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali before 2011.
On the contrary, Mr. Syed says he has been in charge since the 2011 revolution and wants to end 10 years of incompetent and “corrupt” governments.
“They have been in power for more than 10 years without doing anything, so they let this man work! We believe in him and we will support him until the end,” 54-year-old voter Paya told AFP.
Many voters, like her, don’t hesitate to express their will, at the same time showing their indelible finger, under the noses of police officers, in front of television cameras, without concern for electoral silence rules.
“With this behavior, these people want to intimidate others who reject this constitution,” protested an angry voter, who declined to give his name, to AFP.
The president himself was criticized for promoting the new constitution on Monday morning, which according to his critics violated neutrality rules that remain in place until the end of the voting process at 9:00pm GMT.
Qais Syed, who came to vote in Cité Ennasr, called for his speech to be ratified “to establish a new republic based on true freedom, true justice and national dignity.” Ennahda denounced “voting fraud” and the president’s attempt to influence the vote.
Parties calling for a “No” vote represent a minority of voters. Without a quorum, a “yes” majority is sufficient to pass the text.
Raoub Ben Moussa, deputy head of the Rue de Marseille polling station in the capital, confirmed in the morning that “the turnout was not bad”.
“Anyone who loves Tunisia must come and vote and say yes! It’s a duty!” shouted Majria Hajja, 60, at another polling station in Tunis.
Chokri, who is helping his father, leaning on a cane, to vote in primary school, said nothing else: “We approve of these measures, that’s why we are here today to say +yes+ to President Syed and his decisions. .
Rita Nefsi, a 43-year-old daily laborer, vows to “change the situation in the country”. “Now a new page begins”, he promises.