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Tunisia appoints election commission

09 January 2014, 15:04

Tunis - Tunisia's Constitutional Assembly appointed a new commission to oversee elections in 2014, paving the way for the resignation of the current Islamist prime minister.

The assembly finished voting on the nine members of the High Electoral Commission just before midnight Wednesday. Its members include two judges, a lawyer, a university professor and experts in finance and IT. Three served on the commission that organized the October 2011 elections.

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh of the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party said this week he would step down in favor of caretaker prime minister, Mehdi Jomaa, once the commission had been chosen.

Tunisia's political transition had been deadlocked for months following the assassination of an opposition politician, but after a long mediation by the main labor union, the ruling coalition and opposition parties agreed to the formation of a government of technocrats to oversee new elections.

The assembly had planned to have a new constitution ready by Tuesday, which coincides with the third anniversary of the overthrow of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled this nation for 23 years. The delay in electing the commission, however, may result them in missing their self-imposed deadline by a few days.

Tunisia's revolution inspired similar uprisings across the Arab world, but in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring, the transitions to democracy have stumbled.

Tunisia has seen a rise in extremism and terrorist attacks blamed on shadowy Islamist groups, as well as waves of demonstrations over unmet social expectations amid a faltering economy.

Islamists dominated the elections in 2011 but they have since seen their popularity diminish in the face of the country's persistent problems. Polls, however, still show Ennahda as one of the most powerful parties in the country.

The assembly will vote on Thursday on which member will preside over the commission and are expected to choose university professor Chafik Sarsar, according to state news agency.

- AP


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