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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid