Wednesday, December 25, 2013

January 14 Date Set for Vote on Tunisia Constitution

Talks finally begin on new Tunisia government

AFP, Monday 23 Dec 2013

Talks on a timetable to form a new Tunisian government under premier-designate Mehdi Jomaa finally began Monday after being postponed three times.

The talks, mediated by the powerful UGTT trade union, will focus on when Jomaa, an independent, takes over from Prime Minister Ali Larayedh of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party.

Ennahda, which has been sharply criticised for failing to rein in Tunisia's jihadists since being elected in the wake of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 2011 overthrow, agreed in October to step down as part of a political road map brokered by mediators.

Larayedh has said he is ready to give up his post as long as a new constitution and electoral law are introduced and an electoral commission is in place so elections can be held next year.

On Friday, Jomaa promised to "favour the appropriate conditions for transparent and credible elections, the security of Tunisians and promoting the economy with the aim of emerging from the crisis".

His nomination to form a government of independents was agreed as a way out of the political deadlock gripping Tunisia since July, when MP Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated by suspected Islamists.

Tunisia Sets Jan. 14 Deadline for New Constitution

TUNIS, Tunisia December 24, 2013 (AP)

Tunisia's rival political parties have set themselves a Jan. 14 deadline to adopt a new constitution, the first since the country overthrew a dictator and unleashed revolts around the Arab world.

The constitution is meant to end months of political crisis in Tunisia prompted by the killing of two opposition leaders. A group of 21 parties, including the governing Islamists and opposition movements, has been trying to finalize the charter and set a calendar for presidential and parliamentary elections.

The group's spokesman Mohamed Mahfoudh said late Monday that they have set a deadline of Jan. 14 to do so. That date will mark three years since a popular uprising forced out Tunisia's longtime president.

Tunisia's transition to democracy is being watched in other Arab countries.

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