By Tarek Amara
TUNIS Oct 14 Tunisia's ruling coalition, led by
the Islamic Ennahda Movement, said early on Sunday it had agreed
to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on June 23 with
the president being chosen directly by voters.
The coalition's agreement on a date for elections and the
establishment of an amended parliamentary system come after
widespread criticism from the opposition that Ennahda wants to
control the government and avoid elections.
The Islamic Ennahda Movement won the country's first free
elections last October following the Tunisia's revolution, which
set off last year's "Arab Spring" uprisings. The movement heads
a government that also includes two secular parties, the
Congress for the Republic and the Ettakatol.
The ruling coalition said in a statement sent to Reuters
that an agreement had been reached setting "June 23, 2013, as
the date for legislative and presidential elections," with a
presidential runoff scheduled for July 7.
"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," the
The agreement must be approved by the Constituent Assembly,
where the ruling coalition has a majority of the 217 seats.
The agreement will help speed the drafting of a
constitution. The form of political system was a big contrast
between Ennahda, which called for the parliamentary system, and
the rest of the parties, which called for a dual political
The amended parliamentary system will have powers balanced
by between the parliament and the president.
The announcement of a date for elections may dispel doubts
of Tunisia's partners in the West and foreign investors who wish
to enter the Tunisian market.
The Constituent Assembly elected Moncef Marzouki president
in December 2011 to follow Zine el Abidine, who was ousted as
president in January 2011 after weeks of protests. Those
protests inspired the wave of "Arab Spring" uprisings that
spread across the Middle East and North Africa.