(AFP) – Oct 23, 2011
LONDON — Tunisia's general election Sunday shows that the country is once again leading the way towards greater democracy in the Middle East and North Africa, Prime Minister David Cameron said.
The polls were open in Tunisia's first-ever free elections, with an Islamic party poised to win nine months after the surprise toppling of a dictator that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.
"For the first time today, Tunisians are able to express their views at the polling booth in what I hope will be free and fair elections," Cameron said in a statement.
"It is inspiring that so many candidates are competing for the opportunity to draw up the country's new constitution.
"This remarkable achievement reflects how far the Tunisian people have come since January when they rose up against their autocratic ruler to demand their right to freedom, dignity and a better future.
"Their determination and courage inspired real change across the Middle East and North Africa. As the first country in the region to put democracy to the test at the polling booth, Tunisia is once again leading the way."
Foreign Secretary William Hague saluted what he described as historic elections, and urged Tunisia to continue to blaze a trail for other countries involved in the Arab Spring uprisings.
The success of the Arab Spring would be "judged very heavily by what happens in Tunisia," he said.
"People look to Tunisia to lead the way, as it did when the Arab Spring began 10 months ago," he added.
"That is why these elections are so important."
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