Tunis, Jul 25 (EFE).- Some 564,743 Tunisians have voted in the first three hours of a referendum on a draft constitution that gives the president sweeping powers, a turnout that stands at 6.32% so far, the country’s election commission (ISIE) said Monday.
Tunisian president Kais Saied has also cast his ballot and defended the controversial constitutional project that comes amid a long-running political turmoil in the birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings more than a decade ago.
“We want to live in a free and sovereign country in which citizens are free and freedom is not only that of articles of laws or constitutions, but a true daily practice,” Saied said.
In 2021, the president unseated the government, suspended the parliament and decreed a state of emergency.
Saied, who took power in 2019, justified his measures, saying they were to protect people’s freedom.
While the move saw him lose popularity, many Tunisians still believe in his project as means to end the current political crisis.
“After everything we have experienced, all the injustice we have suffered and all the carelessness… it is mandatory that we come to vote with a yes, I say yes to (president) Kais Saied,” voter Elyes Mouhajeb told Efe.
Raya, another citizen who voted “yes,” said that she thinks the new constitution would unblock the political impasse.
“Many people are going to vote because they are going to judge the last 10 years, because we believe that it has been a very bad time, but I am not sure that this constitution is going to guarantee us the years to come,” the young woman added.
More than 9.2 million Tunisians are eligible to vote at over 11,000 booths that will close at 10 pm.
The political opposition has called for a boycott, while critics warned a low turnout would undermine the legitimacy of the new constitution, if approved. EFE