Tunisia Adopts Law for 2014 Elections

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Tunisia’s interim parliament on Thursday approved a new electoral law to govern legislative and presidential polls due to be held by the end of 2014.

Three years after the country’s revolution, the law was passed by 132 votes in favor, 11 against and nine abstentions in the 217-member National Constituent Assembly.

The assembly, which started voting on the law article by article last Friday, had initially set itself an April 27 target to wind up the often rowdy debate.

A major bone of contention that led to insults being traded was over a proposed ban on officials of the ousted regime from standing for office, a proposal which was rejected by a single vote.

One of the final clauses adopted was a clause imposing male-female parity in party lists.

The planned elections aim to create permanent institutions in the country that in 2011 spawned the Arab Spring but which remains plagued by prolonged political crises, social conflict and a rise of jihadist groups.

The body responsible for organizing the elections still has no budget, no office and no legislation on which to base its work.

It has said it would need between six and eight months to organize elections once the law was passed.

The constitution allows for a dual executive system, with the prime minister exercising the pivotal role but accountable to parliament.

Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa told Agence France Presse last week that he was determined to proceed with elections this year but that they could still be delayed by organizational problems.

“We must believe it because it was a commitment that is very clear today — to help organize and create a climate conducive to holding elections before the end of the year,” Jomaa said.

“However, the schedule is very tight.”

Jomaa said “there is always a risk of having to postpone the elections, and the longer the delay the greater the risk. It’s a question of managing the planning.”

He ruled himself out as a candidate when the legislative and presidential elections do take place.

His administration’s main task is to organize elections to provide Tunisia with the sustainable institutions it has been deprived since the January 2011 revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

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