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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 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.

VOA Blogs

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