TUNIS: Tunisia’s electoral commission ran a test vote Sunday which it declared a success one week before historic elections in the country that launched the “Arab Spring” revolts.
The ISIE election body chose La Fayette polling station in Tunis for the dry run, an area where some 80 lists of candidates will vie next week for membership of an assembly that will write a new constitution for the country.
“The test will allow us to see if there are any problems and to fix them so that we can hold elections in the best possible conditions,” said ISIE member Larbi Chouika, adding she was relieved at the outcome.
About 60 “voters” were given ballot papers for the test; a big piece of paper, with the names and logos of each of the contenders, and a blank box to be marked, or not.
For the first time in decades, Tunisians will not know the outcome of the vote before even going to the polls.
Some 7.3 million potential voters will be able on Oct. 23 to elect 217 members of the constituent assembly, out of some 10,000 candidates.
Among its tasks will be the appointment of a caretaker government for the duration of the constitution drafting process, which will be followed by fresh elections.
Islamist party Ennahda, banned under ousted Ben Ali, is the favorite to win the biggest block of votes in the vote in a Muslim-majority country hitherto backed by a secular constitution.
Human rights activists and secularists have called on Facebook for a protest in Tunis Sunday afternoon, to ensure “we don’t leave the streets to the bearded men,” referring to conservative Muslims.
Meanwhile, Ennahda, tipped to dominate elections, condemned Saturday an attack on the home of a television chief over alleged blasphemy, denying any role in it.
But Ennahda party chief Rached Ghannouchi equally accused the Nessma television station of “provocation” for airing a film that depicts an image of God as an old, bearded man.
“I support the right of the Tunisian people to denounce this attack on their religion,” Ghannouchi said from Paris, insisting that his party is against “all forms of violence.”
Ali Larayedh, a member of Ennahda’s executive, had earlier told AFP that the party had “nothing whatsoever to do with these acts of violence.”