Polls open in Tunisia’s first post-revolution elections

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Polls opened at 07.00 am (0600 GMT) Sunday in Tunisia’s first-ever free elections, nine months after the surprise toppling of strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in a popular revolt, AFP reporters witnessed.
Some 7.2 million people are eligible to elect a 217-member assembly that will write a new constitution after decades of autocratic government under Ben Ali, whose ousting sparked the Arab Spring.
The multi-party body will also have the loaded task of appointing an interim president and a caretaker government for the duration of the drafting process, expected to take about a year.
The Islamic Ennahda party, banned under Ben Ali, is polled to win the biggest bloc of votes in this first-ever open contest in a country where the outcome of elections used to be a foregone conclusion.
The constituent assembly will have to choose what type of government the country will have and how to guarantee basic liberties, including women’s rights which many fear Ennahda would seek to diminish despite its assurances to the contrary.
In what is widely regarded as the Arab Spring’s first democratic test, Tunisians can choose from more than 11,000 candidates — half of them women — representing 80 political parties and several thousand independents.
Vote counting will start as soon as polling stations close at 07.00 pm, with results updated live throughout the night.
The final tally will be released on Monday.