Tunisia to respect rights and liberties

Tunisia to respect rights and liberties

PARIS - Reuters
Tunisia to respect rights and liberties

Tunisian President Marzouki (L), Tunisian PM Jebali are seen in this photo. AP photo

Tunisia’s new constitution is likely to contain provisions on women’s rights and individual liberties, and the country will need a constitutional council to uphold it, new president Moncef Marzouki said in an interview published Jan. 1.

Marzouki, a political prisoner under ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was elected president as part of a power-sharing deal with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, the winner of Tunisia’s first democratic election, held last October.

The most powerful position, that of prime minister, will be held by Ennahda’s Hamadi Jbeli, raising fears among some secularists that Tunisia could shift towards a stricter Islamist moral and legal code, undermining its liberal values. Speaking to the French news website Mediapart, Marzouki played down such concerns, stressing that the respect of human and more specifically women’s rights had been an important condition of the power-sharing deal.

Coalition parties are now drafting a new constitution which he said would enshrine those demands in law. “In all likelihood we are going to have a constitution that is very specific on human rights, on women’s rights, on public and private liberties,” he said. “We are going to have the best text possible, but we will need a constitutional court to protect it.”

Tunisia became the birthplace of the “Arab Spring” uprisings last January when protests forced the autocratic Ben Ali, in power for more than 23 years, to flee to Saudi Arabia. Marzouki said the dictatorship had left scars on the Tunisian people and that the new rulers would do everything possible to divide powers between the president and prime minister to prevent history repeating itself.