In the run up to Sunday's presidential election, the Tunisian minister of justice and foreign affairs told FRANCE 24 that democracy in the country is working. One of our Observers in Tunisia, who lives under police surveillance, reacts to what he says is a joke.
Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali has been re-elected president of Tunisia three times already since his first victory on November 7, 1987. While Tunisia enjoys a growth rate of 5%, efficient infrastructure, a healthy education system, and one of the best reputations for women's rights in the region, it seems that somewhere along the lines, freedom of speech got left behind.
A guest on FRANCE 24's Debate programme, Justice and Human Rights Minister Béchir Tekkari, said that the electoral system remained "fair, transparent and multi-party". However, Tunisia's ruling party, the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD), keeps the country under a tight grip, regularly disposing of certain opposition members and censoring unfavourable media.
This year the country can celebrate a slight improvement in its international reputation. Reporters Without Borders ranked Ben Ali's Tunisia in 154th place on their press freedom index, up 21 from last year when they came in last - 175th.
Mokhtar Yahyaoui is a former judge. He was removed from his position and banned from leaving the country in 2001 after he wrote a letter to the president asking for the independence of the judiciary to be guaranteed. His blog was hacked in September of this year and remains inaccessible today.