Tunisia commission delays text on party financing

AFP , Wednesday 6 Jul 2011

Unpopular commission tasked with drafting party law in Tunisia fail to agree on text, postpones decision

A commission tasked with drafting a law on the financing of political parties in Tunisia's nascent democracy postponed a decision Wednesday, because of a dispute among its members over its contents.

The panel failed to agree on a text after five hours of talks Tuesday.

President of the commission Yadh Ben Achour said it was better to put off the talks for a week so as to have everybody present and thus ensure a degree of consensus.

"We are trying to overcome the crisis at the heart" of the committee, he said. Differences were to be expected given the diverse nature of its membership, he added.

The committee had been due to debate the text again Wednesday.

Proposals include a ban on any foreign financing of political parties and a limit to how much private individuals can contribute.

But the main political parties, concerned at the effect such restrictions might have on them, have fiercely criticised such measures.

One of the parties most hostile to the proposals is the Islamist movement Ennahda (Renaissance), which in June was among a number of political groups to pull out of the national commission, questioning its legitimacy.

Ennahda is considered to be one of the front-runners in elections for the constituent assembly scheduled for October.

The leader of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, which seeks to be an alternative to the Islamists, has also been critical of the reform panel, because its members are not elected.

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