TUNIS - The high commission responsible for planning elections in Tunisia on July 24 has opted for parity between men and women in the lists to be presented by political parties, officials said Tuesday.
The decree, passed on Monday, also excludes as candidates anybody who served during the past 10 years in the government or the former ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled in January by a popular uprising.
The parity between women and men among potential candidates in a system of proportional representation was welcomed by all members of the high commission, including representatives of the Islamist movement Ennahda.
"This is a historic day. We have got rid of all doubts on our determination to build democracy to bring about the birth of a new regime in Tunisia. The participation of women in decision-making is a historic decision," Mokhtar Yahyaoui, a renowned human rights activist and member of the commission, said.
"This is a very important step. Everything that has been decided today will be considered a reference point in the future and the principle of parity is truly revolutionary. This shows that there is a revolution in the minds of Tunisians," said Kaltoum Ganou, a judge sitting on the commission.
On April 7, the high commission decided to set up an independent electoral commission of 12 members, a measure that has yet to be approved by the interim government.
The chosen electoral system of proportional representation is advantageous to the smaller political parties.