Tunisian poll panel ready for election
Tunis - The head of a panel organising Tunisia's landmark constituent assembly elections told AFP on Tuesday that his team was "all ready" for the weekend vote after a trial run in Tunis.
"We are all ready. All the polling stations have received the electoral materials. We will set up in primary schools at 13:00 (12:00 GMT) on Friday, install everything and use on Saturday for a last review of our troops and material," Kamel Jendoubi said.
Tunisians go to the polls on Sunday to elect the body whose main task will be to write a new constitution for the north African country, which has been under interim rule since a massive uprising that led in January to the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled for 23 years.
The army and police will keep order during the vote, which is the first free poll for many young Tunisians after decades of dictatorial rule by Ben Ali and his political party. Members of that toppled regime are not allowed to stand in the current elections.
"The wonderful thing is to have seen four million Tunisians come forward voluntarily to put their names on the electoral rolls," Jendoubi said, adding that those who were not included could vote by using their identity cards in the constituency corresponding to their address.
The 7 361 polling stations serving the country's 27 constituencies will be open from 07:00 to 19:00. The ballot count will begin immediately after voting ends and the Independent Higher Authority for the Elections (ISIE) hopes to announce the results by the afternoon of October 24.
The ISIE held a practice run of voting in Tunis, which it said "went well".
Almost a million Tunisians living overseas, many of them in France, are eligible to vote from Thursday through Saturday to elect 19 of the 217 members of the future constituent assembly.
The turnout is the great unknown of the poll and the ISIE said the election could be seen as "a success if turnout is higher than 60%" out of an electorate of seven million, but Jendoubi said he thinks "we will go higher than this figure."
Jendoubi added that the electoral campaign had taken place "without major incidents and without hate campaigns among the parties" in what he described as "an almost excessive calm".
About 50 000 electoral agents will be deployed in the polling stations and 5 000 national observers and 530 international observers will monitor the vote.