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Tunisia: France calls for immediate reforms after poor election turnout

December 20, 2022 at 12:24 pm

People vote in early general elections at Bou Mhel polling station in Ben Arous, Tunisia on December 17, 2022 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Former colonial power France has called on Tunisia to carry out necessary reforms of the electoral system after the parliamentary election on Saturday was boycotted by around 90 per cent of voters. The French confirmed their full support for their former colony in light of the challenges Tunisia is facing.

“France takes note of the preliminary results of the first round of the Tunisian legislative election and the low turnout reported by the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE),” said the foreign ministry in Paris. “There is a need to undertake swiftly the reforms that are necessary to ensure the country’s stability and future prosperity.”

The participation rate in the legislative election was 11.22 per cent according to official figures announced on Monday. It was the lowest rate since the start of the political transition in the country in 2011.

ISIE spokesman Mohamed Tlili Mansri announced the victory of 21 candidates in the first round of the election, and said that a second round will be held in 133 constituencies next month.

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The parliamentary election is the latest of the exceptional measures imposed since 25 Jul 2021 by President Kais Saeed. He has since dissolved parliament and the Supreme Judicial Council; issued legislation by presidential decrees; and adopted a new constitution after a referendum on 25 July this year.

France also called for a resumption of talks between the Tunisian authorities and the International Monetary Fund that are as inclusive as possible in order to reach a final agreement. The French foreign ministry expressed concern about the IMF postponing its board meeting on a loan programme for Tunisia.

In late November, the French Development Agency granted Tunisia a loan of €200 million to support its general budget, and to complete its reform programme.

Tunisia is witnessing a severe economic crisis, exacerbated by the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic, as well as the high cost of importing energy and basic materials due to the Russia-Ukraine war.