Tunisia’s parliament OKs mini-constitution
TUNIS - Agence France-PresseTunisia’s constituent assembly Dec. 10 adopted a provisional constitution that will allow the north African country to name a government, a month and a half after its first post-revolution election.
The 217-member assembly approved each of the 26 clauses of the document individually to get state institutions back on the move before voting on the entire basic law. The vote -- 141 in favour, 37 against and 39 abstentions -- came after a five-day often tumultuous debate which saw hundreds of people demonstrating calmly outside the assembly building shouting slogans demanding “Freedom and Dignity.”
The outgoing government of Beji Caid Essebsi, formed after the ouster on Jan. 14 of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, has officially resigned and many Tunisians have expressed growing impatience at the institutional limbo. The election of a president and creation of a new government could only take place once lawmakers adopted the “mini-constitution”, laboriously drawn up over two weeks after the elections. “This is the beginning of a new Tunisia,” said assembly president Mustapha Ben Jaafar. The new head of state is expected to be elected today afternoon.
Conditions for president
The adopted document outlines the conditions and procedures to follow by the country’s executive, legislature and judiciary until general elections are held, possibly in a year, and until a final constitution is agreed. Under the provisional constitution the president must be “exclusively Tunisian, of the Muslim religion,” the child of Tunisian parents and at least 35 years old. The opposition boycotted Dec. 10’s vote, arguing that the prime minister will hold too many powers at the expense of the president. The president will outline the country’s foreign policy in agreement with the head of government, and is the head of the armed forces.