Tunis Turnout for the elections held for Tunisian expatriates has been high, particularly in Europe, officials have said.
Unlike their compatriots at home who have only one day, Sunday, to elect their candidates, the 338,712 Tunisians living abroad and eligible to have three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday to cast their ballots in the 437 stations designated in various embassies and diplomatic missions in 45 countries.
"The turnout has been high in France, especially Paris, Marseilles, Germany and Italy," Mohammad Fadhel Mahfoudh, Ridha Tarkhani and Nabil Bafoun, from the independent commission supervising the elections, told reporters in Tunis. "We did not have any serious violations and the claims widely circulated online that the polling stations in Algeria, Lebanon mad Qatar had been shut down are not true. What happened is that the heads of the polling stations in Beirut and Doha had been replaced after it was discovered that they were not neutral," they said.
The polling station in Morocco has been shut down on the grounds that the premises belonged to a Tunisian lawyer and did not offer the required security standards.
Heads of polling stations who were members of a political party were also replaced, the officials said.
However, the difficulties faced in the polling stations abroad were mainly technical, they said.
"We basically had technical issues resulting from the lack of experience of the people named to run the polling stations," Mahfoudh said.
According to official figures, 652,000 Tunisians living abroad have the right to vote in the elections to choose the deputies who will draft the country's new constitution.
In comments on the possibility for Tunisians living in Libya to vote, Torkhani said that a decision was taken in July not to have elections in Libya as a result of the dangerous situation on the ground.
Tunisians have reportedly staged a rally in front of the consulate in Benghazi to demand the right to cast ballots in the first genuine multi-party elections in the country's history.
"The elections commission could not take the risk to hold elections in an area where Tunisians could be at risk," Torkhani said.
However, he said that Tunisians living in Palestine could cast their ballots in Ramallah where a station equipped with all the necessary facilities and tools has been set up.
The first Tunisian to cast a ballot in the historic elections was a woman living in Australia.