TUNIS, Tunisia, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Tunisia is holding general elections for the nation's 217-member parliament Sunday, the second such election since the 2011 Arab Spring and the first since the establishment of the country's new constitution in January.
Over 100 political parties will be in the running, including officials from the administration of former President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who was overthrown during the Arab Spring uprisings. More than 5 million Tunisians are eligble to vote at nearly 5,000 polling booths starting at 7 a.m.
The two most popular parties are the Islamist Ennahda Party and the secular Nida Tounes Party, led by 87-year old former minister of interior, foreign affairs and defense, Beji Caid Essebsi. The former is largely supported by poor Tunisians and the latter by elites who wish for a return to stabler times.
Former Ben Ali officials are projected to win seats in cities in which they remain popular.
This all comes amid a standoff between police and alleged militants in suburban Tunis Friday that left six people dead, including five women.
Interior ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Aroui said negotiations to remove women and children believed to be related to the gunmen from the scene had broken down. He described the deceased as "terrorists."
On Thursday, police in Kebili arrested two men armed with assault rifles who were allegedly planning a terrorist attack, Aroui said. One bystander was killed in the incident.
The Tunisian government has warned that terrorists might try to disrupt the general elections, and in the previous weeks security forces have been cracking down on potential extremist cells.
The 2011 Arab Spring began in Tunisia before sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East. The legislative assembly voted in tomorrow will hold office for five years, constituting an end to the transitional phase of democracy in the country.