After the electoral commission’s controversial decision to drop six candidate lists of the Aridha Chaabia (Popular Petition), party leader Hechimi Hamidi said all other Aridha lists would immediately withdraw from the Constituent Assembly on Thursday, as a sign of protest against the decision.
Hamidi has since reversed his decision, but in the meantime, heads of lists showed a remarkable inclination to ignore his withdrawal.
Aridha Chaabia’s head of list in Beja, Aymen Zouaghi, told Al Maghreb, “This list earned its candidacy in the Constituent Assembly. Legally, it’s the head of a list’s own decision and no one else’s.” Zouaghi invited his supporters to keep their calm and avoid violence in order to preserve security in Tunisia.
In Gafsa, Hassan Radhouani, the head of the district’s Aridha list told the same newspaper, “Heads of lists of Al Aridha are still consulting with each other regarding the evaluation of the latest updates and deciding their stance.” He emphasized, “It’s their decision!” and expressed his sympathy for the dropped candidates.
Hanen Sessi, head of list of Al Aridha in Sfax1, disagrees with ISIE’s decision and believes that “It was neither right nor fair. They did not prove the funding-related violation before deciding to drop those lists.” She stated that she will turn to court and hold on to her seat and “justice will be served.”
Regarding the protests and violence in Sidi Bouzid, Sessi believes that the reason behind the protestors’ outrage is not to support Al Aridha after the list-dropping decision, but rather “to refuse being treated in an isolating and marginalized way.” Moreover, she says that some parties and candidates accused Hechimi Hamidi of buying votes in Sidi Bouzid, taking advantage of local “naivety and poverty.” Such belittling comments set Sidi Bouzid on fire Thursday evening and Friday morning.
According to Anouar Marzouki, head of the Aridha list in Jendouba, he will respond through the administrative court to appeal the ISIE’s decision. “Reasons are not clear enough. The accusation of carrying an ‘early’ electoral campaign does not justify the list-dropping.”
The ISIE has said Aridha Chaabia’s six lists were dropped because their campaign expenditures exceeded the limit established by electoral law.
Anouar Marzouki added that his political organization aimed at introducing Hechimi Hamidi’s profile to the people, not his independent list, which is not illegal. He explained to Al Maghreb that his list does not question the elections transparency. “We appreciate ISIE’s efforts and refuse violence.”
Hechimi Hamidi reversed his decision to withdraw his 19 remaining lists on October 28th, telling Hannibal TV, “I cancel my last decision of withdrawing all Al Aridha lists from the Constituent Assembly, for the supreme interest of Tunisia.” Hamdi prompted Al Aridha heads of lists to continue their work as a part of opposition. He also urged the heads of dropped lists in the 6 districts to appeal against ISIE’s decision at the administrative court.