News / Africa

Lawmakers Pass Groundbreaking Constitution in Tunisia

Members of the Tunisian parliament wave flags after approving the country's new constitution in the assembly building in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.
Members of the Tunisian parliament wave flags after approving the country's new constitution in the assembly building in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.
Lisa Bryant
Tunisia is beginning a fresh political chapter after lawmakers passed a new constitution late Sunday that some herald as a model for other Arab countries. A newly named caretaker government will be tasked to usher the country to elections.
 
Tunisia's airwaves were full of the news Monday morning - the North African country finally has a new constitution, more than three years after its revolution ousting long-time dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa has also named a new caretaker Cabinet. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the ministers later this week. 
 
Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.
x
Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.
Tunisia's Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Jan. 26, 2014.
Cheers erupted in parliament late Sunday night, and lawmakers began singing the national anthem after the charter was adopted by 200 out of 216 votes, completing one of the last steps in establishing a democratic government.
 
Assembly speaker Mustapha Ben Jafaar spoke following the vote, in remarks broadcast by Al Jazeera.
 
"Of course nothing is perfect, but we strongly believe this constitution represents a good basis and enforces the necessary and balanced mechanisms that guarantee rights and freedoms," said Ben Jafaar.
 
The process has been long and sometimes bitter - especially on issues like women's rights and the role of religion. Last year, the assassination of two secular politicians plunged the country into a political crisis. But today, many hail the constitution as an example of compromise between secularists and the moderate Islamist Ennahda party.
 
Human rights groups have closely monitored the process. Despite some concerns regarding free speech language, Amira Yahyaoui of the rights group Al Bawala said the charter is “90 percent” good.
 
“For the first time, maybe, we will be able to say that democracy is not a western concept, but a universal concept. And this is by having the first Arab democratic country. Tunisia was the laboratory of the Arab Spring, and clearly it's the one and only country succeeding [when it comes to] real democracy in the Arab region,” said Yahyaoui.
 
The constitution bans torture, guarantees equal rights between men and women and the right to due process. While it names Islam as the country's religion, it also guarantees freedom of worship.
 
Another so-called 'Arab Spring' country, Egypt, passed its own constitution by referendum earlier this month. The vote in favor was overwhelming, partially because the government repressed any opposition.
 
“I hope this constitution and this process will give faith to Egyptian people to finish their revolution and give hope and faith to the rest of the Arab countries,” said Yahyaoui.
 
Tunisia's new constitution is supposed to pave the way for democratic elections later this year, but the caretaker government will face a tough road ahead. Major issues of the new government include tackling poverty and unemployment and dealing with the rise of militant Islam.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More