Tunisia assembly to vote on constitution next week

The members of the 217-member assembly drafting the charter had reached agreement earlier in the day on pending articles in the draft charter.

Tunisia assembly to vote on constitution next week

World Bulletin / News Desk

Tunisia's Constituent Assembly is expected to vote on the nation's whole draft constitution within a week.

The assembly on Thursday finalized voting on all 146 articles of the nation's new constitution, including a divisive article on apostasy and two transitional articles, and will hold a session to vote on the charter as a whole.

The members of the 217-member assembly drafting the charter had reached agreement earlier in the day on pending articles in the draft charter.

Two years in the making and now in its third draft, the charter is a carefully worded blend of ideas that has won the support of both Ennahda, the Islamist party that leads the assembly, and the secular opposition. It is being hailed as one of the most liberal constitutions in an Arab nation.

The members of the constituent assembly have amended article 6 on apostasy, which in its present form calls on the state to spread a culture of moderation, but also to protect religious values.

The process of drafting and approving a new constitution took a year longer than planned. Ennahda had to scrap many of its original demands for the constitution. The movement, however, managed to put an Islamic flavor in the draft, stating that Islam is the religion of Tunisia and a preamble that recognizes Tunisians’ Arab-Muslim identity.

A final vote on all the articles of the constitution is expected to take place in the assembly later. At least 145 members need to approve the charter so that it can be approved.

The charter will be put to a national referendum if two thirds of the members of the assembly did not approve it.

The first two articles of the draft lay out the balance between Islamist and secular views in careful language that is not subject to amendment by future governments.

Tunisia's Ennahda wants elections in 2014

The Ennahda movement, which leads Tunisia's ruling government coalition, has called on participants in an ongoing national dialogue to set dates for presidential and parliamentary polls sometime this year.

"Ennahda urges the national dialogue to issue election dates that cannot be pushed back by the election commission," Ajmi Lourimi, head of the movement's media department, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

A host of Tunisian legal experts and election specialists attended Thursday's national dialogue session to discuss a possible timetable for parliamentary and presidential polls.

According to the law, Tunisia's independent election commission has the sole right to set dates for upcoming elections.

The election commission is the second to be formed in Tunisia since the 2011 ouster of autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2014, 10:57
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