Tunisian President under pressure to resign after 'fiasco' elections

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By Isabella Jewell  & AP
President Saied votes in parliamentary elections
President Saied votes in parliamentary elections   -   Copyright  Slim Abid/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved.

Only 8.8% of the Tunisian electorate voted in the parliamentary elections on Saturday against the backdrop of a soaring cost-of-living crisis and widespread fears that democracy has been undermined in the country. 

The boycott of the vote was encouraged by opposition parties, including the Salvation Front coalition, who say that it is part of a "coup" led by President Kais Saied who wants to legitimise his one-man rule. 

Electoral board president Farouk Bouasker acknowledged that the turnout was "modest" but said it could be explained by "the absence of foreign financing, in contrast to previous elections".

Saturday's turnout is the lowest participation in any poll since the revolution over ten years ago. 

In January 2021, just over a year after President Saied was elected, anti-government protests broke out in Tunisia, sparked by economic hardship and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On 25 July that year, Saied suspended the parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, which triggered the ongoing political crisis in the north African country. 

The former lawyer granted himself almost unchecked powers after pushing through a new constitution in July this year, which has been branded "a setback for human rights" by Amnesty International

Saied rejects claims that he has undone Tunisia's path to democracy, instead stating that the dissolution of parliament was necessary to break political deadlock. 

The first results of the election are expected on Monday.