Tunisian PM wants elections before June 2013

'Our society is characterised by its attachment to moderation and equilibrium'

TUNIS - Tunisia's next elections should be held by the end of June 2013, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said in an interview published on Wednesday in the La Presse daily.
"We think that the next elections should not take place later than the month of June 2013. It would be preferable for them to take place on April 9 (Tunisia's Martyr's Day) or at the end of June," he said.
"We hope that the national constituent assembly expends the necessary effort to accelerate the process of editing the constitution."
Tunisia elected a new constituent assembly in an October vote.
Its main task was to draft a new constitution for the North African country after the ouster in January 2011 of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his 23-year regime.
The assembly also formed an executive branch to legislate until the next general elections are held.
The country adopted a provisional constitution in December and is now drafting a new one, due to be completed around the middle of the year.
In the interview, the prime minister reiterated that his moderate Islamist Ennahda party was sticking to moderate principles.
"There are two extremes -- that of the right and that of the left. There are two Salafisms -- the jihadist Salafism and the Salafism of anarchy and chaos. We say no to these and we say to our people that our society is characterised by its attachment to moderation and equilibrium."
Ennahda said on Monday that it will not support making sharia, or Islamic law, the main source of legislation in a new constitution and will maintain the secular nature of the state, a move that was criticised by hardline Islamists and welcomed by secular parties.
Jebali also said he "firmly condemns" anti-Semitic slogans shouted at a weekend protest demanding the imposition of sharia, saying they "harmed Islam and Tunisia."
On Tuesday, Tunisia's religious affairs ministry and several parties including Ennahda condemned the chants.