Tunisian official gives October 16 election date

Reuters News
Posted: May 26, 2011 9:19 AM
Tunisian official gives October 16 election date

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia's first election since the overthrow of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali will take place on October 16, the election committee said Thursday, contradicting a government announcement of a July 24 vote.

The announcement, by the head of the independent organizing committee, came just a day after Tunisia's interim government announced the vote would take place in July.

Opposition parties and campaigners have taken to the streets protesting against earlier suggestions of a delay to the vote for an assembly to rewrite the North African's nation's constitution.

Larger opposition parties are demanding an early vote, many of them saying they fear the interim government may renege on its promise to lead Tunisia toward democracy after the country's revolution earlier this year.

Smaller parties have demanded a delay, saying they need more time to prepare for the vote.

"We need plenty of time for the election ... we don't have enough days left to have the election on July 24. Therefore, the elections will take place on October 16," said election committee president Kamel Jandoubi.

"There are many problems, such as the fact that nearly 400,000 Tunisians in the country do not have voting cards... in addition, we have to recruit nearly 24,000 employees to organize the elections... they have to be trained... all that takes a lot of time," he added.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Jan Harvey)