Tunisian opposition wants presidential elections monitored, accuses government of confiscating freedoms
Tunisia, Politics, 10/18/2004
The Tunisian opposition deplored what it called the confiscation of political freedoms and the will of people and the media in Tunisia. In a conference it held in Paris on Saturday, one week before the presidential elections in the country, the opposition parties accused the government of harassing the rivals of President Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali.
The conferees demanded an international monitoring of the presidential elections which are due on October 24th, and warned over what they called a prior falsification of the elections which they said that its results have become more evident, to that President Ben Ali will win a fourth term of office.
The conferees in Paris also deplored what they called the total media bias for President Ben Ali and not giving other candidates the opportunity to highlight their election programs.
The chairman of the Tunisian league for human rights Mukhtar al-Tureifi said before the conference that despite "repeated revisions of the electoral law, however, it does not include an article punishing falsification.. the law punishes you if you falsify a bus ticket, but does not punish for falsifying the will of people." For his part, the chairman of the "conference for the sake of the republic", Munsif al-Marzouki, described the situation of the opposition in Tunisia as catastrophic, noting that the opposition is oppressed, and crippled." He indicated that what is the opposition is making is but an operation to show the people and the government that the opposition says "no to repression." For his part, the candidate for the democratic opposition who opposes the presidential elections in Tunis, Muhammad Ali al-Helwani, refused the request made by the authorities to introduce amendments to his election statement.
Al- Helwani and two other candidates from two small opposition parties are competing with Ben Ali. Diplomats and analysts say that the three competing men of Ben Ali have very limited chance to win even if the elections are free and in a country which has not seen, according to human rights groups, free elections within half a decade.
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