Tunisian Leaders Agree to Future Elections
In a statement released on October 14 the Ennahda party, along with members of Tunisia’s ruling coalition, agreed to schedule presidential and parliamentary elections for June 23, 2013. The announcement also indicated that an amended parliamentary system would be established. ”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 statement said. The Constituent Assembly must vote to approve the agreement before it may take effect.
A controversial anti-blasphemy law originally proposed for inclusion in Tunisia’s constitution has been taken off the table. Mustafa Ben Jafaar, speaker of the National Constituent Assembly noted that blasphemy will not be considered a criminal charge saying “that is not because we have agreed to [allow] attacks on the sacred, but because the sacred is something very, very difficult to define.” The law drew intense criticism from journalists and civil society groups who were concerned that it may infringe upon the freedom of expression. “There is a fundamental achievement of the revolution that should never be called into question, and that no one should be able to challenge, which is the freedom of expression and of the press,” Jafaar said.