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.
Russia, South Africa and eight other countries have voted against giving the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) consultative status at the UN
Members of the group decided that individual countries could adopt a go-your-own-way approach to growth plans
Israel has been pressuring the US and European countries to introduce legislation and take other repressive measures to confront the BDS movement.
1 Spanish journalist, 2 Colombians being held by the ELN in Colombia
Mikhail Gorbachev hit with 5-year ban for support of Crimea annexation by Russia
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico says he will continue to oppose an EU quota plan regarding migrants
Donald Trump reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president on Thursday,
'In all touristic towns, there is a slight recovery,' tourism minister says
German chancellor says canceling sanction against Russia may harm the G7's credibility
European Commission head warns a G7 summit with politicians such as Trump, Le Pen, Boris Johnson, Beppe Grillo would be 'a horror scenario that shows well why it is worth fighting populism'
US president believes the armed group's violence will continue despite new leadership
'If he meant returning Donbas for humanitarian reasons, this statement can be supported,' Kremlin spokesman says
Foreign Minister Lavrov says 'it is in the interests of Islam to ensure unity of all its branches'
If he succeeds Ban Ki-moon in January 2017, Lancak would be the first Easter European UN chief
Turkish TIKA agency reveals support for over 2,000 people fleeing Boko Haram insurgency
'Food supplies are limited and tightly controlled; medicines are exhausted and many families have no choice but to rely on dirty and unsafe water sources' in the ISIL-occupied city