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.
Annual US Trafficking in Persons Report upgrades Thailand from lowest tier, but warns problem ‘remains large’
Strategy to retake northern city from ISIL is changed after original plan is leaked by MPs
Jewish lawmakers and former chief rabbi attack Labour Party leader for alleged remarks at anti-Semitism conference
According to an eyewitness, bomb attack left passengers 'shredded'
Countries pay tribute by lighting up buildings or monuments in Turkish colors in spontaneous response
Crowded field emerges as Britain’s largest political party begins process to elect David Cameron’s successor
Baghdad hit by series of fatal attacks only 2 days after government promised new security measures
Norwegian Court Approves Extradition of Mullah Krekar, a Terror Suspect
Iraq says air strikes destroy 260 IS vehicles fleeing Fallujah
Nicola Sturgeon met EU officials in Brussels Wednesday
Sameh Shoukry makes first visit as Egyptian FM to Palestinian Authority’s administrative capital in West Bank
Alvin died late Monday, Toffler Associates, the consultancy firm he founded, said in a statement without giving a reason for his death.
Police have shot a Palestinian who apparently attacked a Jewish settler
Angela Merkel says EU project remains on course despite Britain's exit from the bloc
US president's phone call to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan day after terror assault
Candidates to succeed David Cameron must announce by Thursday, Labour leadership challenge expected Wednesday