Tunisian polls delayed until Oct 23

2011-06-08 12:38

Tunis - Tunisia is delaying its first elections since the ouster of the country's longtime autocratic president, the prime minister announced on Wednesday, setting a new date of October 23.

The elections had earlier been planned for July 24. But Tunisia's electoral commission proposed last month that they be postponed until October, saying conditions weren't right to hold a vote.

Those in favour of the July date had said it was important that the vote go ahead to bring political stability to a country whose uprising set an example for pro-democracy movements around the Arab world.

But some nascent political movements have said they need more time to prepare for elections in a country that was dominated by the ruling party of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali for decades. Tensions continue to simmer and occasionally erupt into deadly violence in poor provincial towns.

The elections are for a constituent assembly meant to write a new constitution that could pave the way for legislative and presidential elections.

The interim Cabinet met on Wednesday, and Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi announced the new date.

The uprising in Tunisia that drove out Ben Ali in January sparked revolts around the Arab world.