TUNIS - Officials of Tunisia's former ruling party in the past 10 years will be barred from standing in elections on July 24, Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi announced Tuesday.
The time limit was cut from the 23 years some groups had asked for following the ouster in January of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled since 1987 and was toppled by a popular uprising.
Ben Ali's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) was regarded as a pillar of the increasingly corrupt and repressive regime he led in the north African country, which has been replaced by a transitional government.
"After reflection, the government has adopted a 10-year limit. We decided that 23 years was not logical. There are officials of the RCD who were repressed by the former regime," Caid Essebsi told a press conference.
A high commission tasked with preparing the election of a constituent assembly had decided by a majority on April 12 that any RCD member from the full 23 years of Ben Ali's rule should be banned from future office, after a heated debate.
Caid Essebsi said that to get round this obstacle, interim President Foued Mebazaa would draw up a "list by name" of people who directly collaborated with Ben Ali, particularly in his presidential cabinet and among his close advisors.
This list will eventually be published, the acting prime minister said.
The chairman of the high commission, Yadh Ben Achour, said that only certain former officials in the RCD would be barred from becoming candidates to the constituent assembly.
Ben Achour last week told the French daily Le Monde that the decision "directly targets only members of the executive council, the central committee, the general secretaries of coordination committees and the heads of local party cells.
Caid Essebsi also confirmed that the transitional government supported mandatory parity for men and women on the electoral lists for the vote in July, with regulations to ensure that women were placed on the lists in positions where they could get elected.
"This is a revolutionary proposal. The chance for women to succeed in the coming elections is guaranteed, like for men," Caid Essebsi said.