Tunisia leadership backs June date for presidential election


A man walks past the statue representing the cart of Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruit seller whose self-immolation sparked the revolution that ousted a dictator and ignited the Arab Spring, in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.


Fethi Belaid

Tunisia's ruling coalition today announced that it had agreed on June 23, 2013, for presidential and parliamentary elections there, reported Reuters.

The country's leadership, led by the Islamic Ennahda Movement, is currently under fire over leaked tapes that allegedly reveal a more extremist agenda, according to the Associated Press. Activists have also accused the party of trying to cling to power in order to push through legislation sympathetic to its Islamic platform. 

However, Ennahda on Saturday agreed to cut a controversial blasphemy clause from the country's proposed constitution, reported Agence-France Presse, possibly in response to fears of creeping Islamization. 

Today's agreement on the date for a presidential election still needs to be authorized by the Constituent Assembly, but the ruling coalition holds a majority of the body's 217 seats, said Reuters, citing a coalition statement saying: 

"We agreed on the choice of a mixed political system where the election of the president of the republic will be directly by the people ... The political system will ensure a balance between authorities and in the executive authorities." 

Ennahda won elections in October 2011 following a mass uprising against the nation's authoritarian leadership, triggering a string of similar uprisings throughout the region known as the Arab Spring. 

The Islamic group, which describes itself as moderate, runs the country alongside two secular parties, the Congress for the Republic and the Ettakatol, according to Reuters