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Tunisia election date spells end for transition

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TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia's assembly on Wednesday set parliamentary and presidential elections for October and November of this year to complete the transition to democracy after its 2011 revolution.

The assembly decided that the vote for the new parliament will be on Oct. 26 and the vote for a new president on Nov. 23. If no candidate for president wins a majority, there will be a runoff on Dec. 28.

It means the newly chosen electoral commission has just four months to organize the parliamentary elections and update the electoral rolls to register the 3 million eligible voters that didn't participate in the October 2011 elections for the interim assembly.

Tunisia kicked off the region-wide pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring by overthrowing its dictator in January 2011. Despite economic and security challenges, the country's disparate political factions have ultimately been able to find common ground and the transition remains on track unlike in many neighboring countries.

While nearby Libya is voting Wednesday for a new parliament, much of the country is beset by militia-fed chaos and in Egypt a coup overthrew the elected government.

There is also a security threat ahead of the elections in Tunisia. Since the revolution, radical Islamists have grown in power, fed by weapons from chaotic Libya and recruits dissatisfied with a weak economy and the failure of the revolution to create more jobs.

On Monday, Tunisia's Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou warned of serious terrorist threats made against the country for the holy fasting month of Ramadan, just days away, and for the elections.

He did not provide further details, but said that some 2,400 Tunisians were fighting with al-Qaida linked groups in Syria and that a dozen attacks had been foiled only in the first five months of the year.

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