x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Tunisia eyes two elections in October, November

Tunisia has been led by a caretaker government since the 2011 uprising that toppled then president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

TUNIS // Tunisia’s election authority has proposed holding a parliamentary election in October and the first round of a presidential vote the following month, marking the final step towards full democracy in the cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Tunisia’s often turbulent political transition began after the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and inspired revolutions across the region.

Since then, Tunisia has been led by a caretaker government and has adopted a new constitution that has been praised as a model of democratic transition in the Arab world.

“Our proposal, which we will present to the Constituent Assembly, is to hold parliamentary elections on October 26, and for the first session of the presidential vote be held on November 23, and the second session on December 26,” said Chafik Sarsar, head of the country’s election commission.

It is widely expected that the Tunisian parliament will in the coming days approve the dates after politicians ended disputes over the election on Friday.

Mr Sarsar hailed the breakthrough in negotiations between the political parties, which allowed for an agreement between the Islamist Ennahda party and its opponents, on holding the parliamentary election first.

But he called for the election dates to be fixed “as quickly as possible”.

The exact timetable of the two polls must be adopted by next Monday, when registration for the electoral lists is due to begin.

Setting a date for elections could restore investor confidence in Tunisia’s collapsed economy.

The decision to hold elections this year was part of a roadmap agreed by Tunisia’s political parties aimed at ending a lingering political crisis sparked by the killing of two opposition politicians in 2013.

The roadmap had already led to the Islamist-led government’s resignation in January and the adoption of a new constitution, some three years after the uprising that toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

* Reuters and Agence France-Presse