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Carter Center Urges Tunisia to Continue Work toward Democratic Goals

Contact: In Atlanta, Deborah Hakes 1 404 420-5124; In Tunis, Baya Kara +216 21 767 800

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The Carter Center encourages Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly and new electoral management body, the High Authority for the Elections (ISIE), to carefully consider next steps as they work toward democratic goals.

"Scheduling polls at an early date is important, so elected political leaders can form a government and give full attention to Tunisia's economic, social, and security concerns," former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said. "It also is critical for the Tunisian authorities to provide the new electoral commission with resources and legislation necessary to conduct credible elections."

To this end, the Center encourages the National Constituent Assembly to focus its immediate efforts on consideration and passage of a new electoral law. In parallel, the Center urges Tunisian authorities to allow the ISIE adequate time and resources to establish itself as a permanent, impartial, and independent institution before undertaking electoral preparations.

The organization of successful elections will be a shared responsibility. The ISIE will have the central role in the process, but the assembly has a crucial role to play in ensuring the success of the elections, notably in adopting a comprehensive election law. It therefore should endeavor to learn from recent experiences and ensure there is sufficient time and appropriate consultative mechanisms with experts and civil society representatives to prepare a legally sound and clear electoral law.

The electoral process also will require logistical, material, and technical support from ministries and other government institutions. Depending on the electoral system, legal framework, and efforts to renew the voter register, it may not be realistic to expect that credible elections – particularly parliamentary elections – could be conducted in fewer than four to six months after the entry into force of the electoral law.

The 2011 elections were organized under considerable time pressure. The realization of those elections was a genuine achievement, however observers noted some problems. All stakeholders have recognized that improvements could be made to the process, and voters, political parties, civil society, and media will hold the next electoral process to a higher standard. The constituent assembly should learn from these lessons so as to ensure that this standard can be reached. It is incumbent on all stakeholders to assist the ISIE in building public confidence as a competent and independent body capable of regulating and implementing elections.

In support of these objectives, The Carter Center makes the following recommendations to National Constituent Assembly members, the ISIE, stakeholders involved in the national dialogue, the government, and political parties:

• To build and consolidate the confidence of political parties and other stakeholders in the electoral process, the ISIE should be given time and appropriate resources to establish itself as a permanent institution. It should not be asked to organize elections before having had the opportunity to establish its structures and subsidiary bodies.

• The National Constituent Assembly should begin drafting a new electoral law as a first priority, devoting sufficient time and expertise to the drafting of the law, so as to guarantee that the legal framework is clear, unambiguous, and addresses all components necessary to ensure democratic elections in accordance with Tunisia's national and international obligations and the new constitution.

• The assembly's General Legislation Commission, responsible for producing the first draft of the law for consideration by the plenary, should use the 2011 electoral law and recommendations from civil society and others as a basis for the new text.

• The constituent assembly should clarify the relationship between the ISIE and other public administration bodies in the 2014 electoral law to ensure that the election commission has full authority over the election process.

• The assembly should allow the ISIE the opportunity to develop a comprehensive electoral calendar that takes into account the sequence of electoral operations, the timeframes established by the electoral law, and the sensitive task of conducting simultaneous elections for new political institutions before setting a date for the elections.

• The new government should support the ISIE in its mission, providing it with all necessary support to carry out the next elections effectively and allocating appropriate budget resources.

• For its part, the ISIE should build public confidence in its independence and impartiality by ensuring transparency in its work, allowing Tunisian and international observers unfettered access to meetings and public documents. One alternative is to publish electoral regulations and other relevant documents on the ISIE website.

• To ensure thorough understanding of its work by all stakeholders, the ISIE should establish a communications strategy early in the electoral process and hold regular press briefings. To the extent possible, the ISIE should endeavor to take decisions by consensus.

• The ISIE should endeavor to establish its executive and administrative bodies as soon as possible, and make decisions regarding its regional structures.

• The ISIE should devote adequate resources and planning to trainings, incorporating lessons-learned activities, for all election officials and staff, especially at the regional and local level.

The Center reiterates its congratulations on the election of the members of the ISIE, the adoption of the new constitution, and the appointment of the new government.

Following its observation of the October 2011 National Constituent Assembly elections, The Carter Center has monitored the constitution-making process and developments related to the establishment of institutional and legal frameworks for subsequent elections. The Center assesses these processes against Tunisia's constitution, national laws, and international treaty obligations.




"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

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Le Centre Carter appelle la Tunisie à poursuivre ses avancées démocratiques

 مركز كارتر يحثّ تونس على مواصلة مسيرتها نحو تحقيق أهداف الديمقراطية

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