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Accusations Fire Up on the Eve of Tunisia’s Presidential Election

Accusations Fire Up on the Eve of Tunisia’s Presidential Election

Saturday, 12 October, 2019 - 07:30
Kais Saied campaigning in central Tunis (Reuters)

More than seven million Tunisian voters will be casting their ballots on Sunday to pick the country’s new president.

This follows a heated war of words and exchange of accusations between candidates Nabil Karoui, a media mogul accused of money laundering and tax evasion, and his opponent law professor Kais Saied.

Saied took 18.4 percent of votes in last month’s first round and Karoui 15.6 percent. Voter turnout was over 50 percent, something considered earthshattering by political analysts who said the rate sends a strong message on the public’s discontent with the ruling figures.

Saied, 61, has performed phenomenally although he did not organize a large election campaign, and the majority of his actions were limited to some visits to neighborhoods in the capital Tunis.

Karoui, who was released on bail on Wednesday after 48 days of detention, immediately hopped back on the campaign trail.

Karoui, who presents himself as an open-minded liberal, and who heads the Heart of Tunisia party which won 38 seats in the legislative elections, said: “We will not make a government alliance with Ennahda party, which has failed Tunisians for the past eight years.”

Karoui also accused his rival, Saied, of being an “arm” of the Islamist-inspired Ennahda, which led the parliamentary elections with 52 seats. With a turnout of only 42 percent of the seven million registered voters, Ennahda won 52 of the 217 parliamentary seats.

"If Kais Saied is elected, Ennahda will have three presidencies," Karoui said in a televised interview.

"With all my respect for Saied, he will only be an executor for the will of Ennahda, like he was in the times of former president Moncef Marzouki," he said.

Ennahda had announced it will support Saied for president.

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