Tunis: They came by taxis, private cars, on bikes and motorbikes and on foot, converging at the elementary school, one of the voting locales in Monastir, a coastal resort in Tunisia.
Young university students, veiled women and swarthy men mixed excitedly at the entrance to the high school where they wanted to play an active part of the historic moment of their nation’s rebirth by casting ballots and electing the members of the constituent assembly that will write the country’s new constitution and choose a president and a prime minister to run the country until the next elections.
“These are exciting times in Tunisia,” Iheb Sakka, a school supervisor, said.
“I have never thought that I would actually stand in a long line to elect the party I like. I am really grateful for this unique opportunity and long to see more progress,” he said as he proudly showed his finger with the blue elections ink. For many Tunisians, the blue ink has become a symbol of the freedom to make choices.
“People should not be concerned with the deluge of allegations that has been unleashed by those who do not want this first experiment with democracy succeed,” Iheb said. “We have heard and seen in the last few days so many messages of hope and confidence that have boosted our self-esteem and our trust in our nation. We want to build on those and givce everybody a chance to prove themselves,” he said.
For Anas Ouali, a business head at a private company, the whole experience is “awesome.”
“I went to the polling station at a school in the Cite Olympique in Tunis at 6:20 am as I knew it would get crowded later,” he said.
“Everything was peaceful and the military servicemen inside the school were well organised. There were also many observers. I was the first to cast my ballot and was followed by many people, many retired men and women who were obviously keen on being party of the celebrations. When I was out, I saw that more people joined the already long queue, even though it was only 7:10 am,” he said.
'My vote could make a difference'
Anissa Ammar, a university student, said that she was not initially keen on voting.
“They all looked the same and was totally unimpressed with the short speeches candidates delivered on TV,” she said.
“I thought that it would be a waste of time. However, when in the middle of all the excitement and enthusiasm that has surrounded me in the last few days, I realised that my vote could make a difference and that I should be more positive in my thinking, I decided to vote. I now have something to look forward to doing,” she said.
Yosra Bdiri, a teacher, said that she prayed for Tunisia and for all the people who died to make the dream of voting freely in a true multiparty election a reality.
“It was a great feeling and I am grateful to all those who have made such a moment a reality in Tunisia,” she said.
“We have waited so long for such a day and we will always recall it with fondness. I wish Tunisia and Tunisians further success. Regardless of who gets elected, Tunisia is on its way to a resounding victory that is richly deserved,” she said.