Tunisia crisis talks hit snag with assembly delay

A first plenary session of Tunisia's elected Assembly since the launch of all-party crisis talks began Tuesday after a seven-hour delay due to disagreement over a key law.

The deputies met at 4:30 pm (1530 GMT), instead of 9:30 am as planned, to examine amendments to a law setting up an electoral commission, the Constituent National Assembly said.

Al-Bawsala, an independent NGO which covers Assembly affairs, said the delay was caused by "disagreements on the law ... between different parliamentary groups."

Under a timetable agreed by Tunisia's ruling Islamists and the opposition, the electoral commission has to be formed by Saturday.

A "national dialogue" was launched last Friday and the government led by moderate Islamist movement Ennahda is to be replaced as part of a roadmap aimed at breaking a months-long political stalemate.

A new prime minister will have two weeks to form a government of independents under the timetable for the talks.

Incumbent Prime Minister Ali Larayedh has pledged to step down so long as the timetable is respected. The Assembly has until the end of November to also draw up a new constitution and an electoral law.

Tunisia's political crisis erupted in July with the killing of opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi by suspected jihadists, triggering calls for the resignation of Larayedh's government.