TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisian lawmakers have postponed debate on a bill that would ban from office ex-members of the North African country's former dictatorship.

The controversial bill would prevent former ruling party members and ministers in the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from running in elections expected late this year or in 2014.

Ben Ali was overthrown in the first of the so-called Arab Spring revolutions in 2011.

Opponents say the bill is anti-democratic, and it has divided the ruling Islamist Ennahda party.

The bill was approved in a first reading on Thursday, but lawmakers have decided to postpone further examination and a final vote until after the debate on a new constitution, which begins Monday.