The presidential election campaign in Tunisia winds up this weekend with the outcome already beyond doubt. Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has been in power for 22 years and is certain to win a new term tomorrow. He is a staunch ally of the West in the fight against Islamic militancy, but his opponents accuse him of suppressing dissent at home. His face is everywhere, he dominates the campaign. Opponents are struggling to get their message across.
Independent sources say the president enjoys almost total coverage in the Tunisian press. His re-election drive has taken more than 97 per cent of the available space, his only credible rival, Ahmed Brahim, is trailing way behind with just 0.22 per cent. Ben Ali has promised more open democracy if re-elected, but his opponents are sceptical. Brahim is accusing the authorities of strangling his campaign, while the Democratic Progressive Party is boycotting what it calls a meaningless vote.