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Tunisia Announces Parliamentary, Presidential Election Dates

A general view shows Tunisia's Constituent Assembly in Tunis, June 25, 2014.

Tunisia's parliament on Wednesday agreed to hold parliamentary elections on Oct. 26 and a presidential poll a month later, another step towards full democracy in the country that toppled its autocrat ruler in 2011.

Lawmakers approved for the first round of a presidential election to be held on Nov. 23 and a second round at the end of December.

The polls will be the first since Tunisia adopted a new constitution this year, and the second since the former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country after mass protests against him in 2011.

Islamist party Ennahda won the first free election after Ben Ali's fall and formed the first government, but the assassination of two secular opposition leaders triggered a political crisis.

Nonetheless, Tunisia's relatively smooth progress contrasts with the turmoil in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, which also ousted long-standing leaders three years ago.

Peaceful elections this year could help to restore investor confidence in the Tunisian economy, which has slumped amid political turmoil, violence and mismanagement.

The budget deficit is expected to touch 8 percent by the end of 2014, more than 50 percent higher than under Ben Ali.