News / Middle East

Tunisia MPs Move Forward on New Constitution

A member of Tunisia's parliament holds up a copy of a document that reads in Arabic "Draft Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia,"Jan. 3, 2014 in Tunis.
A member of Tunisia's parliament holds up a copy of a document that reads in Arabic "Draft Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia,"Jan. 3, 2014 in Tunis.
Lisa Bryant
Tunisian lawmakers are hoping to approve a long-delayed new constitution by January 14, coinciding with the anniversary of Tunisia's 2011 revolution. But there are growing doubts that will happen.
 
The parliament has passed several articles since it began voting on the draft constitution last Friday.  But there are more than 145 articles, and the process was delayed by death threats against several secular opposition members.
 
Amnesty International Tunisia Director Lotfi Azzouz says after months of gridlock the voting represents a major step forward.
 
What is important, Azzouz says, is that Tunisians have a constitution that guarantees rights and liberties.  He points to several strides so far, including language that makes Islam the country's religion, but also allows for religious freedom.
 
On Monday, lawmakers also agreed on language guaranteeing gender equality.  Tunisia has long been hailed as a leader on women's rights in the Arab world.
 
Amnesty and a number of rights groups are calling for Tunisia's parliament to strengthen other parts of the draft constitution to meet international standards and laws.
 
But Azzouz praises politicians and civil society groups for emerging from what he calls an 'impasse.'
 
Tunisia was expected to get a new constitution more than a year ago, paving the way for new elections.   Instead, the ruling Islamist Ennahda Party and the secular opposition bickered over the role of Islam in politics, among other issues.  The crisis deepened last year, with the assassinations of two secular opposition leaders.
 
Tunisia's 2011 revolution inspired popular uprisings across the Arab world.  Observers hope Tunisia will eventually become a democratic model for the region. 
 
But many are cautious about the future.  That includes law professor Hatem Ben Salem, a former diplomat under Tunisia's ousted president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.  Ben Salem has been working with various political groups to move the process forward.
 
"Tunisia is in a position of 'wait and see.'  ... my biggest fear is the issue of terrorism.  Everyone knows today that in Tunisia you have groups of terrorists and you have lots of weapons hidden in many different places of the country.  It has never been the case before in Tunisia," says Ben Salem.
 
As for the constitution, Ben Salem joins those who doubt it will be passed by January 14, when Tunisia marks the third anniversary of its revolution.  But he does not think that will be a catastrophe.  It has taken months to draft the charter, Ben Salem says, rushing to adopt it would be a big mistake.

You May Like

Official: S. Sudan President, Rebel Leader to Meet in Tanzania

Talks part of effort to end conflict in country that has left more than 10,000 people dead, displaced more than 1.5 million others More

Dutch Deny Link to Mystery Submarine Off Sweden

Netherlands denies Russian claim that 'foreign vessel' photographed in waters off Sweden could be Dutch More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid