Tunisia calls presidential vote for October 6

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Tunisia will hold a presidential election on October 6, the office of President Kais Saied announced Tuesday, though he has not indicated if he will seek a new five-year term after his 2019 election.

Saied, a constitutional specialist, took full control of the country in 2021, ruling by decree after dismissing his prime minister and parliament.

He had a new constitution approved by referendum in 2022 that created a presidential system with a parliament that has only limited powers.

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“The president of the republic issued a decree today, July 2, 2024, summoning voters for a presidential election on Sunday, October 6, 2024,” Saied’s office said in a statement.

The political crisis sparked in the country has weighed heavily on Tunisia’s economy, with unemployment standing at 15 percent and around four million of the country’s 12 million people living in poverty.

In May, Saied abruptly replaced the interior and social affairs ministers in a surprise cabinet shuffle following a wave of arrests of rights activists, lawyers and journalists.

Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a $2 billion loan have stalled since 2021, with Saied rejecting reforms demanded by the body.

But in June, the European Investment Bank on Tuesday announced grants and loans worth 450 million euros ($480 million) to support infrastructure projects as well as small and midsize businesses.

The crisis has driven thousands of Tunisians to attempt perilous Mediterranean boat crossings in the hope of finding better lives in Europe.

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