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New Constitution a defining moment for democracy in Tunisia
an article by Inter-Parliamentary Union Press Briefing Note

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has today [January 27] congratulated Tunisia on the adoption of the country’s new Constitution which enshrines freedom of belief and equality between men and women.

Members of the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia celebrate the adoption of the country's new Constitution three years after the protests that toppled President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. ©REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

click on photo to enlarge

In a letter to the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly, IPU President Abdelwahad Radi warmly welcomed the development, saying the adoption would mark the day when the country was “provided a firm basis for developing a modern democratic State.”

The new Constitution, adopted by an overwhelming majority (200 votes out of 216), was not only agreed by consensus but also represents the diverse groups and beliefs in Tunisian society. It was “an enormous achievement,” President Radi said.

He applauded the members of the National Constituent Assembly for having “so ably met the expectations of the Tunisian people.”

In particular, the IPU President highlighted the aspects of the Constitution that will have a far- reaching impact on democracy in Tunisia.

“The guarantee of freedom of belief, equality between men and women and making the State accountable for the protection of women against violence, are fundamental cornerstones of democracy. They are part of the core beliefs and aspirations of our organization of which Tunisia is a member,” he said.

The inclusion in the new Constitution of a provision guaranteeing equal representation of men and women in parliament and other elected institutions was particularly noted by IPU.

Since the political changes that began in Tunisia late in 2011, IPU has actively engaged with authorities, women politicians and non- governmental organizations to ensure a new legal framework that would clearly reaffirm the principles of freedom of conscience and belief and gender equality.

IPU stands by to provide any support and assistance Tunisia may require to make this widely supported Constitution a reality for all the Tunisian people.

(Click here for a French version of this article)


Question(s) related to this article:

The Arab Spring, Can Tunisia continue the momentum they started?

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The following commentary is translated from Martine Gozlan in Marianne

No, the Sharia is not being applied, and yes, the charge of apostasy is prohibited.  No, Islam is no longer the source of law, and yes, the woman is the equal of the man . And freedom of conscience is protected.  Tunisians, with a minimum of violence and a maximum of reason, have fought for a constitution that rejects obscurantism and opens the door to a secular hope in the Arab world.

Moreover, there is no longer the choice of the bearded or the képi.   If Islam is to bite the dust, there must tanks in the streets.   And the Islamists,  of course, have the hideouts and the explosives.  Moreover, there is no choice: it is blood for blood and the exclusion of the other from the making of history.   And besides, they touched the Tunisian people, who rejected it. . ...more.

This report was posted on January 30, 2014.