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Tunisia’s Opposition Coalition Threatens Boycott, Demands Freedom for Political Opponents

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The National Salvation Front, the biggest opposition coalition in Tunisia, has threatened to boycott the upcoming presidential election if political opponents of President Kais are not freed.

President Kais Saied has detained or sued over 20 political rivals since assuming power in 2021 after suspending parliament. Despite a low voter turnout that year, a significant number of citizens endorsed Saied’s constitutional amendment in a 2021 referendum.

Saied’s constitutional amendments currently empower him to appoint magistrates and members of the electoral body. He is expected to run in the forthcoming presidential election, scheduled for September or October, and it is currently unclear if anyone will challenge him for the presidential seat.

Concerns about an unfair election were expressed by the National Salvation Front, made up of major opposition groups like the famous Ennahdha Islamist Movement. The National Salvation Front chief, Ahmed Chebbi, claimed that among the requirements it has set for submitting a candidate are the release of imprisoned lawmakers, the reopening of Ennahdha’s headquarters, ensuring electoral commission neutrality, and reestablishing judicial independence.

The coalition now waits for the president’s response as it continues to garner more support from emerging opposition groups. For years, Tunisia was praised for its democratic advances but that is changing as the North African nation grapples with worsening political and economic unrest.

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