Tunisia mobilizes military and security personnel prior to Sunday elections

Published November 22nd, 2014 - 01:00 GMT

As Tunisia prepares to hold its presidential elections scheduled for Sunday, the country’s security and military establishments announced plans to mobilize 90,000 personnel to secure polling stations and vital government buildings.

The Ministry of Defense will deploy more than 38,000 soldiers to ensure the smooth running of the polling process, a ministry spokesman, Belhasan Al-Waslati, told Asharq Al-Awsat. The country’s military establishment will also utilize a rapid response system by land, air and sea as a precaution, the official added.

More than twenty candidates will compete in the presidential elections, with the current President Moncef Marzouki and Beji Caid El-Sebsi, leader of the secular party Nidaa Tounes (Tunisian Call), being the main contenders.

The crisis team tasked with overseeing the security situation in the North African country has ordered the closure of Ras Ejdir and Debiha border crossings with Libya between November 20 and 23.

The crisis response committee, chaired by the Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, has called for greater security precautions to ensure high voter turnout. Members of the committee inclu de the ministers of interior and defense, and senior security and military officials.

During last month’s parliamentary elections, the Tunisian defense ministry stationed around 26,000 soldiers at polling stations across the country, while 6,000 were deployed near key government and military installations. Another 6,000 soldiers were placed on high alert inside their barracks. The ministry allocated around 1,600 military vehicles, 8 jets, 12 helicopters and four military boats to the security operation.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Marzouki’s legal adviser, Ahmad Al-Warfli noted the “absence of violence” during this year’s election period.

“We have noticed verbal violations only, and we can assess the overall situation at present as being acceptable,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Arab League’s Assistant Secretary-General Wagih Hanafi headed a delegation to observe the elections in Tunis. The delegation is made up of 25 observers from ten Arab countries, an Arab League source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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