EXPLAINER-how could Tunisia hold An election runoff along with one candidate at jail?Reuters #Karoui_HasNovember 2, 2019
The bizarre situation threatens to plunge the North African country into a constitutional crisis at a time it is trying to strengthen its democracy, eight years after the revolution that ended decades of autocratic rule and inspired the Arab Spring.
Its support was instrumental in helping a secular party win parliamentary elections in 2014, although Karoui later split with the movement’s leadership.
Nessma TV has no official licence but Karoui has ignored orders from Tunisia’s media regulator to pull the plug, saying the demands are politically motivated.
Three weeks before the first round of the election on Sept. 15, Karoui was arrested over the 2016 case and he has been behind bars ever since.
Judges have turned down requests to release Karoui four times saying he must remain in detention until there is a verdict, though it is unclear when that might happen.
It has also ruled that his use of the unlicensed Nessma TV did not disqualify him.
Karoui won 15.6% of the vote in the first round, behind Saied on 18.4%.
In Sunday’s parliamentary election, Karoui’s “Heart of Tunisia” party fielded candidates across the country.
Saied could also appeal a Karoui victory, particularly if the allegations regarding the lobbying contract are proven.
Reporting by Angus McDowall; additional reporting by Tarek
Amara; editing by David Clarke
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