Tunisia sees elections in 2014, despite delays

TUNIS Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:09am EDT

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TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia's presidential and parliamentary elections will go ahead as planned later this year despite delays in approving a new election law, authorities said on Wednesday.

No date has yet been set for the elections, the second ballot since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and the first since the adoption of a new constitution praised internationally as a model for transition to democracy.

"Thesecond elections after the 2011 vote will be more difficult because the standards will be tougher," said Chafik Sarsar, head of the Independent Election Commission (ISIE).

"Elections should be held on time in 2014, despite all the difficulties," he said.

Sarsar acknowledged hurdles to overcome, including the fact ISIE does not yet have a headquarters and delays to the new electoral law meant to provide a framework for running the ballot.

Three years after its revolt, Tunisia is in its final steps to full democracy, with a new constitution adopted and more political stability than in Libya and Egypt, which also ousted long-standing leaders in 2011.

After months of crisis, Islamist party Ennahda agreed to resign in January under an agreement with the secular opposition to make way for a caretaker government which is running the country until the elections.

The ISIE, the independent body for overseeing elections, was formed two months ago. After weeks of delay, the transitional parliament will starts discussions, probably next week, on approving the electoral law.

Officials said the authorities were seeking to register more than 4.2 million voters.

(Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Patrick Markey and Janet Lawrence)

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