Once regarded as the sole democracy to have emerged from the mass protests of the Arab Spring in 2011, Tunisia is today voting on a newly minted constitution that analysts fear could be the final nail in the coffin of its democratic era.
Polls opened early on Monday and are due to stay open until late. It is unclear when the results will be announced, but many expect the landmark vote to pass, since there is no minimum voter threshold.
Analysts say that, if it passes, Monday’s referendum will be the final blow to the social and political gains made by the North African country since the Arab Spring, setting the country on a path that will be difficult to return from.
“We will establish a new republic that is different from the one we have had over the last ten years,” Tunisian President Kais Saied said on state TV after casting his vote.
When waves of protest rocked the region 12 years ago, engulfing Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Syria and Yemen, Tunisia temporarily rose as the sole success story to emerge from the Arab Spring.
Egypt and Algeria soon came under strict military rule; critics say freedoms and rights have since regressed in both countries. Meanwhile Syria, Libya and Yemen plunged into bloody civil wars. To this day they remain bitterly divided and wracked by grueling poverty.
However, progress in the former French colony has also stalled. [Continue reading…]