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Voters in Tunisia decide whether to increase the president’s authority in a referendum.

Voters in Tunisia decide whether to increase the president’s authority in a referendum.

Initial results of Tunisia’s referendum on a contentious new constitution are anticipated to be released within days of polls closing.

The vote, according to President Kais Saied, was required to progress political changes.

But according to his detractors, it would solidify the authority he grabbed a year ago to bolster his reign.

When Tunisia ousted longtime leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, it marked the starting point of the Arab Spring.

President Saied chose the date of the referendum to commemorate one year to the day since his momentous decision to suspend the legislature and topple the government. He has effectively ruled by edict ever since.

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The new constitution would grant the head of state complete executive control, ultimate command of the army, and the power to appoint a government without parliamentary approval. It would replace the one that was drafted in 2014, three years after the Arab Spring.

According to Mr. Saied, it is necessary to end a cycle of political inaction and economic decline. According to him, his reforms will secure a better future and are being carried out in the spirit of the 2011 revolution. His many detractors claim that it might bring Tunisia back to an actual dictatorship. The major parties were abstaining from the vote, including the Islamist Ennahda. There appears to be little enthusiasm for the vote, even though President Saied still maintains a core of supporters among Tunisians who think the nation needs a strong leader to address its issues.

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