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Foreign Minister Westerwelle: elections today a key step for Tunisia and the Arab Spring

23.10.2011

Free and democratic elections are taking place in Tunisia for the first time today.

Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle issued the following statement in Berlin today (23 October):

“The democratic awakening of the Arab world began in Tunisia when people in Tunis and throughout the country courageously stood up against an autocratic regime that has repressed them for decades.
Today, nine months later, free elections are taking place in Tunisia for the first time since it gained independence. I am pleased that Tunisia has succeeded in taking this vitally important step towards democracy, freedom and better opportunities for all its people.
I hope that many Tunisians will go to the polls, and in casting their votes will exercise their new democratic rights to help determine their country’s future.
Peaceful, free and fair elections would provide an important role model for countries where the Arab Spring has already made inroads, and would offer tremendous encouragement everywhere that people take to the streets seeking to live a better life in freedom and dignity.
Germany will continue to actively support Tunisia through its transformation partnership.”

Tunisians are selecting a Constituent Assembly in today’s elections. Within the next year, the Assembly will write a new constitution and prepare parliamentary as well as presidential elections.

The roughly 80,000 Tunisians in Germany who are eligible to vote in the elections had the chance to do so between 20 and 22 October. In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the relevant Länder, the Federal Foreign Office authorized polling stations to be established in 15 German cities. On 21 October, Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited the polling station at the Tunisian Embassy in Berlin.

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