Tunisia Islamists eye October vote after charter adopted

AFP , Monday 27 Jan 2014

Tunisia's dominant Islamist party expects elections to take place in October, senior Ennahda official Ameur Larayedh told AFP Monday, the day after parliament approved a new constitution by an overwhelming majority.

"Within six weeks there will be an electoral law. There is a clear path to the next elections, which will probably take place in October 2014," said Larayedh, speaking inside the national assembly.

"Tunisia is now building its democratic model," he added.

The official dates of the parliamentary and presidential elections must be decided by the electoral body (ISIE) that was set up in January.

ISIE president Chafik Sarsar told AFP "the elections would take place before 2015," in line with the provisions of the new constitution.

Separately, a new government of independents unveiled by premier-designate Mehdi Jomaa, under a deal that saw Ennahda relinquish power in a bid to end months of political deadlock, is due to be appointed in the coming days.

It will govern the country until the elections are held.

Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly adopted the charter, which took more than two years to draft amid deep divisions between Ennahda and the secular opposition, by an overwhelming majority late on Sunday.

The resulting fundamental law is a compromise which some observers have warned is at times incoherent or vague but is widely regarded as the most progressive constitution in the region.

Executive power is divided between the prime minister, who will have the dominant role, and the president, who retains important prerogatives, notably in defence and foreign affairs.

Islam is not mentioned as a source of legislation, although it is recognised as the nation's religion and the state is committed to "prohibiting any attacks on the sacred", while freedom of conscience is guaranteed.

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