Tunisia government wants to keep to July vote

AFP , Wednesday 18 May 2011

Tunisia's transitional government wants elections for a constituent assembly to go ahead in July as planned but the final say rests with the organisers

Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi last week raised the possibility of a delay in the vote, which follows the toppling in January of president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, because of the slowness of preparations.

"From the day the government was formed, we have specifically said and repeated that these elections should take place on July 24," Essebsi said on Europe 1 radio during a visit to Paris on Wednesday.

"Now, currently, the elections no longer depend on the government since there is a special commission which has been created and is going to prepare the elections," he said.

The vote is for a constituent assembly that will draw up a new constitution and prepare elections for a new government, a key step as Tunisia struggles to stabilise after the overthrow of Ben Ali after 23 years in power.

Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after weeks of protests that inspired similar uprisings in the Arab world.

Asked if a poll delay would be harmful for Tunisia, Essebsi said: "Yes, in any case even for the government, since even we would like the situation of legality to be settled because for the moment we are in a peculiar situation."

The president of the commission charged with preparing the vote, Yadh Ben Achour, said last week there remained an "immense" amount of work to do for the election.

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