Protests in Tunisia Over Election Outcome

Posted October 28th, 2011 at 6:55 am (UTC-5)
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Fresh protests have erupted in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid on Friday, a day after hundreds of demonstrators marched to the local headquarters of the Islamist Ennahdha party.

News reports say security forces fired shots into the air and tear gas at demonstrators who made another attempt to storm the Ennahdha office.

The protests began on Thursday after election officials invalidated seats won by the rival Popular List party. The officials cited campaign violations.

The government has announced it is imposing a night-time curfew in the town. Sidi Bouzid is the birthplace of the popular uprising that ousted longtime President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and ignited the Arab Spring protests that have transformed the region.

Meanwhile, the political parties that won the most seats in the country's first free elections, on Sunday, have begun talks on forming an interim unity government.

Election officials announced the final results on Thursday. The Ennahdha party came out on top, taking 90 of 217 assembly seats – three times the number won by its nearest rival.

In a Friday news conference in Tunis, Ennahdha leader Rachid Ghannouchi said his party would work to form a new government in “friendliness” and “brotherhood.”

Ennahdha secured more than 41 percent of the vote and will dominate the constituent assembly.

The assembly has been tasked with writing a new constitution, appointing a president and forming a caretaker government.

The center-left Congress for the Republic , a secular party, placed second with 30 seats. The Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties — or Ettakatol –came in third with 21 seats.

The two liberal parties have launched negotiations with Ennahdha, which had been banned for decades under the previous government.

Ennahdha officials say the group intends to propose its secretary general, Hamadi Jebali, as the next head of Tunisia's government.

Tunisia's landmark election was widely considered free and fair. Sunday's vote came a little more than nine months after Tunisians overthrew Mr. Ben Ali.