TUNIS (Reuters) - The Tunisian government confirmed the date of July 24 for a first election since the overthrow of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January, after opposition parties protested against a proposed delay.
The announcement, by a government spokesman, comes two days after the president of the independent election committee proposed moving the poll to October 16.
The election is for an assembly to draw up a constitution after Tunisia’s revolution earlier this year.
Tuesday’s decision followed extensive discussions in which the majority of the larger political parties involved in the election rejected the proposal to move the date.
Ennahda, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), the Democratic Forum for Freedom and Labour (FDTL) and Congress for the Republic (CPR) all spoke out against a later date.
“The council of ministers discussed at length the proposal of the independent committee for the elections and it decided to respect the date fixed by the government of July 24,” said government spokesman Tayeb Baccouche.
Some smaller political parties have protested that July does not give them enough time to mobilise for the election.
A prompt date for the vote is being demanded not only by the larger opposition parties but also the public, many of whom fear the interim government may renege on its promise to lead Tunisia towards democracy.
Protests raged for days in the capital Tunis earlier this month, before they were dispersed by police using tear gas.