Tunisia Agrees to June Elections in Islamist-Secular Compromise

Posted October 14th, 2012 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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Tunisia's Islamist-led Cabinet has agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections next June as part of a compromise aimed at balancing governmental powers between the president and lawmakers.

In a statement, the Cabinet led by the Islamic Ennahda Movement said general elections will be held on June 23, with a presidential runoff scheduled for July 7. The agreement must be approved by Tunisia's Constituent Assembly, which is drafting a new constitution.

Ennahda formed a ruling coalition with two secular parties after winning an election for the Constituent Assembly last October. It was Tunisia's first free vote since the toppling of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in a January 2011 uprising that sparked similar revolts in other autocratic Arab nations.

Ennahda had pressed for a political system in which parliament holds most of the power, but that approach drew criticism from secular opposition groups who feared the Islamist party was trying to cement its authority and make the country more religious. Ennahda later agreed to the compromise system under which powers will be divided among a directly-elected president and the parliament.