07/04/2018, 00.00
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Tunis elects its first women mayor

Souad Abderrahim won over 26 municipal councillors against 22 for her rival. She had come in first in May’s municipal election with 33.8 per cent of the vote. The mayor of the capital also gets the title of Sheikh. A political activist since the 1980s, she is the symbol of the opening up of Islamist Ennhada party.

Tunis (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For the first time in the history of the capital, Tunis has a female mayor, Souad Abderrahim, a leading figure in Ennhada, a self-described conservative “Muslim democratic” party.

Abderrahim was officially elected yesterday by 26 members of the Tunis City Council against 22 for Kamel Idir, her main opponent. Running as an independent, Abderrahim had won 33.8 per cent of vote during municipal elections in early May.

However, her candidacy did not make everyone happy, most notably over the mayor of Tunis’ traditional title of sheikh, which is usually reserved for men.

Active since her student days in the 1980s, Abderrahim was elected to parliament in 2011 defeating 11 men. Within her party, the new mayor of Tunis is seen as a symbol of its desire to open up and embrace modern values.

“We want to give the Tunisian woman her rights,” she said during an interview on IFM radio station in May. “I consider this a source of pride for the Tunisian woman,” she added.

The municipal elections have been touted as a major milestone in Tunisia's transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule came to an end in the 2011 uprising that overthrew then president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

More than 57,000 candidates, half of them women and young people, ran for office in 350 municipalities, with more than 7,200 positions being contested.

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