Tunisian Islamists claim victory in local elections

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party claims victory in country’s first free local elections. One of their candidates was a Jewish man.

Ben Ariel ,

Flag of Tunisia
Flag of Tunisia

Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party on Sunday claimed victory in the country’s first free local elections, citing vote counts observed by the party, according to Reuters.

Top Ennahda official Lotfi Zitoun told Reuters the party was more than 5 percent ahead of its secularist rivals Nidaa Tounes. An official from the secularist party said his party probably trailed Ennahda by 3 to 5 percent.

One of Ennahda’s candidates in the election was Simon Slama, a Jewish man who is among the small number of Jews still living in Tunisia. He stood for office in Monastir -- a symbolic town for Tunisians as it is the birthplace of Habib Bourguiba, the father of the country's independence.

Ennahda won the first parliamentary election after the overthrow of former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, but was accused by the opposition of seeking to entrench itself in power, disregarding the interests of a large secular urban population and being lenient toward radical Islamists.

It was later forced to step down in favor of a caretaker government and subsequently lost a 2014 election to its secular rival.