14 October 2012

Tunisia: Nation Sets Election Date

Tunis — After weeks of arduous talks, the governing troika agrees on how and when the country will choose its next president.

Tunisia's next parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on June 23rd next year, the ruling coalition said on Sunday (October 14th).

The announcement came as a result of a meeting held between representatives of the Ennahda Movement, Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic (CPR). They decided to opt for a mixed political system, with a president elected directly by voters. A possible run-off will take place on July 7th.

Meanwhile, CPR Secretary-General Mohamed Abbou called for speeding up the activation of the Independent High Electoral Commission (ISIE)'s work based on the criteria of neutrality, experience and avoidance of bipartisanship.

"We have to decide about the issue of the independent electoral commission and to agree on a law that would govern its work with all due transparency and without intervention from any party," Abbou said at the October 9th seminar held by the Centre for Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) in Tunis.

Guaranteeing the integrity and democracy of next election in Tunisia requires an atmosphere of transparency, independence and security stability in the country, he said.

The ISIE would ensure fair, free and transparent vote that would guarantee equal chances for all political parties, Abbou added at the seminar named, "A Vision for Guaranteeing Integrity of Next Election".

In late July, the government presented a bill governing the work of the electoral body that would be tasked with organising the next presidential elections. However, a number of civil society organisations and the opposition rejected the proposal, claiming that it doesn't meet the requirements of independence and neutrality.

The country needs to create suitable security conditions to hold the vote, Abbou said. Competing parties should not resort to unjustified acts to hinder the election or create an atmosphere of tension and violence.

Abbou also said that disseminating the values of transparency, integrity, accountability and equal opportunity among candidates requires ensuring the neutralisation of administration and mosques and distancing them from partisan propaganda and electoral campaigns.

In this regard, he demanded that the current government fully control all places of worship and monitor the content of sermons to avoid the politicisation of religion.

The CPR head also stressed the need to monitor political party funding to avoid any serious breaches and violations. He called for establishing an integrated system in monitoring parties' accounts and funding of election campaigns.

"The more distortions, negative points and legal breaches mar the election, the more failing this process will be," Abbou noted.

A decree passed in May last year prohibits political parties from receiving direct or indirect funding from any foreign entity, direct or indirect funding of unknown origins, or any other donations, grants or aid, other than funding provided by the state.

Meanwhile, Tunisians are looking forward to the much-awaited election, hoping that it will be marked by transparency and integrity to produce fair results.

"We have to work from now on providing a suitable atmosphere for the next election so that it may be peaceful and civilised," Mohamed Karimi said. "Citizens should be prepared to vote freely and securely, and the principle of equal opportunity must be guaranteed for everyone so that we may get the country out of its current situation and open new horizons of concord and national unity."

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