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This is the basic text view. Tunisia is a constitutional republic with a population of approximately 10 million, dominated by a single political party, the Democratic Constitutional Rally RCD. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been the president since The international community generally did not consider the presidential election to be free and fair.
President Ben Ali ran against three opposition candidates and was declared the winner with approximately 94 percent of the popular vote. During the year the indirect elections for some members of the Chamber of Advisors, the upper house of parliament, resulted in a heavily pro-RCD body. The civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
There were significant limitations on citizens' right to change their government. Local and international nongovernmental organizations NGOs reported that security forces tortured and physically abused prisoners and detainees and arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals. Security forces acted with impunity sanctioned by high-ranking officials. There were also reports of lengthy pretrial and incommunicado detention. The government infringed on citizens' privacy rights and continued to impose severe restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association.
The government remained intolerant of public criticism, and there were widespread reports that it used intimidation, criminal investigations, the judicial system, arbitrary arrests, residential restrictions, and travel controls to discourage criticism by human rights and opposition activists. Media freedom was severely restricted during the year and corruption was a problem. The government or its agents did not commit any politically motivated killings; however, security forces killed demonstrators during the year.
On May 6, according to domestic NGOs, protestor Hichem Alaimi was fatally electrocuted at a power station in Redeyef when local officials proceeded to restore power to the station, although Alaimi and others refused to let go of the cables after alleged warnings by officials that power would be restored. Protestors had temporarily shut down the generator during a sit-in protesting unemployment.