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Tunisia passes comprehensive electoral reforms

[JURIST] The Tunisian National Constituent Assembly [official website, in Arabic] passed a new law enacting sweeping electoral reforms. The passage of the law allows authorities to set the country's first election [Reuters report] since the ouster of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The law allows [TunisiaLive report] members of Ben Ali's political party to run for office and includes a "gender parity" rule requiring parties to alternate male and female candidates on their lists of candidates for each district. The Independent High Authority for the Elections (ISIE) [official website, in Arabic], the body responsible for putting together the election, has said that it will take six to eight months to organize the election [France24 report] after the passage of the law.

Tunisia has faced political turmoil since Ben Ali left office amid nationwide protests in 2011. In January Tunisia's parliament adopted a new constitution [JURIST report], hailed internationally as a historic milestone for the country, guaranteeing freedom of worship and recognizing equality between men and women. Earlier that month the parliament rejected [JURIST report] Islam as the main source of law for the country as they voted to establish a new constitution. In July UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] condemned [JURIST report] the assassination of a Tunisian opposition leader. In May Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Tunisia to modify its draft constitution [JURIST report] to ensure protection of human rights. Two months earlier HRW urged Tunisia to repeal its criminal defamation law [JURIST report], which is typically considered a civil offense throughout the world. That same month Tunisian lawmakers voted to approve [JURIST report] a timetable for its draft constitution and national elections. In October 2012 HRW called on Tunisian authorities to investigate a series of attacks [JURIST report] by religious extremists and to bring those responsible to justice.

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