Tunisia's ruling coalition says it has agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on June 23 next year. It says the president will be directly chosen by voters.
The ruling coalition, headed by the Islamic Ennahda Movement, said in a statement on Sunday that an agreement had been reached setting "June 23, 2012, as the date for legislative and presidential elections," with a presidential runoff scheduled for July 7.
The coalition went on to say that the parties had agreed "on a mixed political system in which the president will be elected by universal suffrage for a better balance of power, including at the heart of executive branch."
The agreement must be approved by the Constituent Assembly, where the ruling coalition has a majority of the 217 seats.
Balance of institutional power
The coalition's agreement on an election date and an amended parliamentary system came after the opposition accused Ennahda of wanting to control the government and avoid elections.
Ennahda had called for a purely parliamentary system, while the rest of the parties wanted a dual political system. The amended system will have powers balanced between the parliament and the president.
Disagreements over the nature of the political system have been delaying the drafting of the new constitution by Tunisia's interim parliament.
The ruling coalition also includes two secular parties: the Congress for the Republic and the Ettakatol.
The Islamic Ennahda Movement won the country's first free elections last October after former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January 2011 after weeks of protests. The Tunisian revolution inspired the wave of "Arab Spring" uprisings that spread across the Middle East and North Africa last year.
The Constituent Assembly elected Moncef Marzouki as president in December 2011 to replace Ben Ali.
tj/slk (Reuters, AFP)