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Tunisian parties woo women before Sunday poll

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Tunisian parties woo women before Sunday poll

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The main contenders in Tunisia’s first free election since the fall of former leader Ben Ali have held their final campaign rallies.

Sunday’s vote comes ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections expected next year, and will create an assembly charged with writing a new constitution and forming an interim government.

Rached Ghannouchi’s Islamist Ennahda party, once-banned, is the front runner. It wants to present a modern image and the leader told supporters the party would increase women’s rights.

Ennahda says it has nothing to do with fundamentalists, but its critics say the party attracts radicals. Warning of the dangers of extremism, the secular Progressive Democratic Party says it represents moderation and it is also appealing for women’s votes.

Ben Ali’s government prevented its leader, Nejib Chebbi, from standing against him in presidential elections two years ago.

Proportional representation makes either party unlikely to win outright; both have been reaching out to other potential coalition partners.