* Proposed date 3 months later than previously expected
* More time needed to ensure transparency, official says
* Main opposition fears move “political, not operational”
(Adds background, comment)
By Tarek Amara
TUNIS, May 22 (Reuters) - The president of Tunisia’s independent election committee, Kamel Jandoubi, proposed postponing an upcoming election to Oct. 16 from July 24, citing operational reasons.
Speaking on Sunday at a press conference, Jandoubi said it would be impossible to have elections on the expected date in July.
“The time would not be enough to prepare all that is necessary for transparent elections,” he said.
He said: “Personally, I propose the date of October 16.”
Ali Larayad, a spokesman for Ennhada, the main opposition and Tunisia’s only Islamic party, told Reuters: “In my opinion, I am not convinced that an election day three months later than expected is in the interests of the country and its political stability or security.”
“I am afraid this decision is political, not operational.”
The timetable for the election, the first since the ousting of former Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January, has been contentious, with smaller, less mobilised parties expressing misgivings over an early date.
But street protests in the Tunisian capital have put pressure on authorities to hold elections in two months’ time even if this could risk more instability in the long run.
Hamma Hammami, president of the Communist POCT party, told Reuters: “Since the beginning, we have been demanding an election date in October. Today we find the proposal of October 16 very logical.
“This date gives political parties the opportunity to present their programmes and gives the Tunisian people the opportunity to get to know the different opposition parties.”
The new election date recommendation would usually need the approval of the intermim government to be formally adopted. (Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Jan Harvey; Editing by Matthew Jones)