Tunisia denies U.S. critics on election transparency

22:00, October 28, 2009      

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Tunisia, which has just completed its presidential and parliamentary elections, rejected on Wednesday the United States' charges that it prevented foreign observers from monitoring and following different stages of the elections.

A spokesman of the U.S. State Department expressed concern about the transparency and credibility of recent elections which hand a fifth term to President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

"We were concerned about the recent elections. The government of Tunisia did not allow international election monitoring. We are not aware that permission was granted to any credible independent observers," said Ian Kelly State Department spokesman.

"We will continue to press for political reform and respect for human rights," Kelly added.

The government in Tunisia dismissed his remarks and said, "This important electoral event was followed by 31 independent and credible figures, including particularly ministers, MPs, former ambassadors and representatives of civil society."

All the observers outlined the integrity and transparency of the elections after they had visited several polling stations across the country, Foreign Affairs ministry said in a statement.

Observers came from 23 countries, including in particular France, Italy, Austria, United Kingdom, Portugal, Malta, Russia, Japan, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, in addition to a delegation from the African Union (AU) Commission, according to the statement.

Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has seized a strong lead over three other candidates in Sunday's presidential election by garnering 89.62 percent of the vote, securing a fifth term in office after two decades in power.

Ben Ali came into power in 1987 when doctors declared his predecessor Habib Bourguiba senile and unable to continue his duties. The head of state won the last election five years ago with 94.4 percent of the vote.

Source: Xinhua
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