Tunisia: harsh debate ahead of run-off vote

Ennhadha stresses 'neutrality' but its votes will be key

28 November, 10:04

    Counting votes for Tunisian presidential elections Counting votes for Tunisian presidential elections

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, NOVEMBER 28 - A harsh debate is ongoing in Tunisia as the electoral campaign has kicked off ahead of a run-off in the presidential race pitting the elderly leader of secular party Nidaa Tounes, which has the relative majority, Béji Caid Essebsi, against the outgoing president Moncef Marzouki, supported by Islamists.

    And the vote of pro-Islamists close to the Enndha party is set to be key in the election.

    The campaign is marked by accusations between the two rivals more than a discussion on programs, with the risk that the country will emerge split from the vote.

    Essebsi, for example, is accusing Islamists of being behind the vote for Marzouki and Marzouki is accusing his rival of not being democratic and representing the ''ancient regime''.

    The leadership of Ennhadha is seeking to tone down the debate and in a statement said it considers ''the run-off for presidential elections as an opportunity to establish democratic culture and the spirit of competition in national political life''.

    After congratulating with the two rivals in the presidential race, Ennhadha called on electoral campaigners and citizens to be reject provocations, accusations and smear campaigns, warning against the incitement of hatred and against dividing Tunisians based on their political allegiance.

    The leader of Ennhadha, Rached Ghannouchi, in a message to sympathizers and members as well as all Tunisians, on his Facebook page, called once again on party members to ''privilege a perfect neutrality'' towards candidates. He added that, in order to appease tensions, Ennhadha did not pick a candidate and let its backers free to choose. According to political observers, the vote of this political side will be key in tipping the scales, given the short distance between Marzouki and Essebsi.

    Friday is the last day to present administrative appeals and then a date for the run-off will be set. (ANSAmed)

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