News24

Tunisia's Ben Ali re-elected

2009-10-26 09:42

Tunis - Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was re-elected with 89.28% of the vote in Sunday's elections for a fifth term in office after two decades in power, according to results released early on Monday by the interior ministry.

The results from all of the north African country's 26 constituencies showed Ben Ali's score ranging from 84% to 93.88% of the vote. They did not include overseas ballots.

The definitive official results of the presidential and parliamentary elections were due to be announced to the press later on Monday by the interior ministry.

Ben Ali's little known rivals trailed far behind, with two candidates close to the government, Mohamed Bouchiha and Ahmed Inoubli, averaging less than five percent.

The only real opposition candidate, Ahmed Brahim, came in last.

In the parliamentary election, Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party won 161 of the 214 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, with the remaining 53 to be divided proportionally between the competing opposition parties.

Solid economic foundations

Ben Ali, 73, ousted Tunisia's first elected president since independence from France, Habib Bourguiba, for senility in 1987. At every vote since then, his opponents have cried fraud over the staggering scale of Ben Ali's win.

In the last elections in 2004, Ben Ali was returned to office with 94.4% of the vote, while his RCD won an overwhelming majority in parliament.

After ruling the north African country for 22 years, Ben Ali faces a difficult economic climate in spite of prudent financial management.

Ben Ali vowed to elevate Tunisia to the rank of developed countries, and he has committed himself during his next mandate to reducing an unemployment rate of 14%.

Tunisia has been commended for its "solid economic foundations" and "real efforts at modernisation" by the International Monetary Fund, but the army in 2008 had to put down unemployment riots in a mining region.