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Tunisia: election authority carries on despite missing members

Boxes with the ballot are seen as part of election preparations ahead of Tunisian constitutional referendum in Tunis, Tunisia [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Boxes with the ballot are seen as part of election preparations ahead of Tunisian constitutional referendum in Tunis, Tunisia [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia's main election body is continuing to make preparations for the legislative election scheduled for 17 December, despite having only five out of seven members in place. President Kais Saied called for the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) to fill the vacancies following the dismissal of Sami Ben Salama on 25 August 25, who was banned from entering the authority's central headquarters after the constitutional referendum on 25 July.

An earlier vacancy occurred with the June resignation of ISIE member Judge Al-Habib Al-Rubai. The judge resigned his position in solidarity with 57 of his fellow judges dismissed by Saied, although he has since returned to his legal career.

"The ISIE has no difficulty in carrying on with the election preparations as it has a valid quorum of members," explained official spokesperson Muhammad Al-Tilili Al-Mansri. He told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the ISIE has "no information" about Saied's intention to fill the vacant positions. "The ISIE now considers Ben Salama as a former member; his status has ended. The ISIE work continues and we are awaiting a basic law to regulate the new composition of the membership of the authority after the inauguration of the new parliament. Order No 117 is clear and stipulates that the work continues until the new institutions are in place."

However, Ben Salama insists that he is still a member of the ISIE, and that he is being prevented from carrying out his duties because he disclosed the "conspiracies" that take place within the organisation.

"The ISIE law does not conform to the new constitution, which provides for the establishment of a constitutional commission consisting of nine members," he explained. "The membership of the current president of the ISIE and its official spokesperson has thus ended accordingly."

READ: Tunisia union calls on election authority not to restrict journalists

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