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Tunisia Set to Go Down the Path of a Singular Voice

Tunisian president Kais Saied has celebrated the almost certain victory of the yes vote in a referendum on a new constitution that hands him wide-ranging powers and risks the return of authoritarian rule in the birthplace of the Arab spring. Preliminary results for the vote, held a year to the day after Saied sacked the government and froze parliament in what rivals have called a coup, were due late on Tuesday, with a full tally not expected until next month. However, according to an exit poll taken by the Sigma Conseil institute, an overwhelming 92-93% of those who voted on Monday supported the new constitution. Only around a third of 9.3 million registered voters cast ballots, Tunisia’s ISIE electoral commission said, showing widespread apathy with the political process. Still, turnout was higher than many observers had expected, suggesting that Saied continues to enjoy personal popularity almost three years into his mandate. After the projected outcome was announced on national television, Saied supporters drove cars in procession through central Tunis, waving flags and beeping their horns, with some singing the national anthem or shouting “We would sacrifice our souls and our blood for you, Saied!”