May 10, 2011 / 11:06 AM / 9 years ago

Tunisia sets up electoral body ahead of July vote

TUNIS, May 10 (Reuters) - Tunisia has set up an independent body crucial for a July election to help decide the country’s post-revolution future after suggestions the vote could be delayed because the timetable was too tight.

The election, scheduled for July 24, will select an assembly to draw up a new constitution in the North African country after an uprising toppled ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January.

Tunisia has struggled to restore order since Ben Ali’s ousting and Prime Minister Beji Caid Sebsi has raised the possibility that the vote may be postponed because of technical difficulties.

Any delay could ignite large protests against the government by people who fear the interim administration will fail to guide Tunisia towards democracy after decades of autocratic rule.

It could also spell more trouble for Tunisia’s economy which lacks the oil and gas resources of its neighbours. Tunisia says it needs billions of dollars in foreign loans to help it emerge from the turmoil which has hit the job market and tourism.

The creation of the promised independent electoral body to oversee the vote suggests a step in the right direction. Tunisian news agency TAP said 13 people had been chosen late on Monday to serve on the committee, including lawyers, accountants and university representatives.

Tension has been running high in the countdown to the vote.

Police in Tunis used teargas on Sunday to break up a fourth day of demonstrations by scores of youths and have clashed with protesters despite a night curfew aimed at keeping order. The capital however has been calm since Monday. (Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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