Ben Ali told representatives of his political party – Rassemblement Constitutional Démocratique (RCD) – of his re-election hopes at the opening of its fifth congress on 30 July.

Ben Ali has been president of Tunisia since 1987. The RCD is a socialist party.

The RCD congress passed a motion calling on Ben Ali “to continue to drive Tunisia in the way of progress and prosperity”.

Ben Ali won the 2004 presidential election with 94.49 per cent of the vote.

Tunisia’s budget deficit is forecast to reach 4.7 per cent in 2008, up from 3.5 per cent in 2007, as the government struggles to pay for subsidised fuel (MEED 11:7:08).