The most influential opposition party in Tunisia, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), says it intends to boycott the presidential and parliamentary elections due to be held in two weeks’ time.
A party representative says the regime led by President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali is manipulating the voting before it has even begun. It says lists of PDP candidates have been declared illegal in 17 electoral districts.
The 73-year-old Mr Ben Ali has been in power since 1987 and has chosen to stand for a fifth term in office.
PDP leader Ahmed Nejib Chebbi had already withdrawn as a candidate in August. He said at the time that the elections would not meet the minimum demands of freedom, integrity and transparency.
Since then, an issue of the Ettarik Al-Jadid (The New Way) newspaper has been seized by the authorities. The paper is a mouthpiece for the Ettajdid opposition party, and in the issue seized had published an article about party leader Ahmed Brahim, another of President Ben Ali’s opponents.
Photo of President Ben Ali by rikomatic (flickr)