World Bulletin/News Desk
Tunisia's new constitution will be ready by October 23, Parliament Speaker Mustafa Ben Jaafar said on Friday, paving the way for elections next year in the birthplace of the Arab Spring and easing concerns about the pace of democratic transition.
Tunisians ousted veteran dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in popular protests over a year ago, sparking the Arab Spring uprisings, and elections in October ushered in a constituent assembly assigned the task of drafting a new constitution.
Once that constitution is complete, Tunisians will go to the polls again to elect a full-year parliament, completing the first phase of the transition.
Tunisian officials have promised the parliamentary election will take place between March and June 2013.
But some Tunisian opposition and civil society groups had raised concerns that the constitution would not be ready in time and have complained about delays in judicial reforms and the slow pace of justice against Ben Ali's former associates.
Ben Jaafar, head of the Ettakatol party and speaker of the constituent assembly, said on Friday that the constitution would be complete within a year as promised before the last elections.
"The constituent assembly is continuing to look into the articles of the new constitution and the constituent committees have so far held 193 sessions," Ben Jaafar said, adding that this responded to accusations that parliamentarians were not carrying out the duties for which they were elected.
Speaking after the assembly passed an amended 2012 budget, Ben Jaafar also said the assembly by June should receive for approval a new parties law and laws establishing an independent election commission, an interim authority to oversee the judiciary and an independent commission to oversee the media.
Media and human rights groups had complained in recent months that the pace of reforms was too slow.
In addition to the dead, there were 28 injured -- 20 of them severely -- who were being treated at seven local hospitals, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus and Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters.
The walk-out comes as violent and sometimes deadly protests continue amid a political and economic crisis that has led to shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation.
Three Palestinians from the Qalandiya Refugee Camp injured protesting Israel’s new restrictions at Al-Aqsa Mosque
Edgar Lungu expels ruling party members for insubordination, including one potential challenger for his seat
Book by former surgeon to South African statesman violates doctor-patient confidentiality, says Nelson Mandela's grandson
Israeli officials signalled they may be open to changing the measures at the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, after the installation of metal detectors at entrances following an attack that killed two policemen stoked Palestinian anger.
Israel reportedly arrests senior Hamas leaders during overnight raids in occupied West Bank
Algeria has refused to classify Hamas or Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist organizations
Hundreds gathered the protest held in front of Israeli Embassy in London
Turkish, Swedish men killed in earthquake on Greek island of Kos
Israeli TV claims metal detectors at Al-Aqsa gates to be replaced with handheld ones
EU asks Israel and Jordan to take an attempt in the Al-Aqsa Mosque to uphold the status quo
Fifty-seven people injured in clashes, 12 taken to hospital, says Palestinian Red Crescent
Speaking ahead of a meeting with Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the foreign minister of Oman, which has remained neutral in the dispute, Tillerson noted "positive movement" in talks since he visited the region ten days ago.