National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia passed the new Constitution
Tunisian Assembly passed the new Constitution laying the foundations for a new democracy
National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia passed the new Constitution on 26 January 2014. The Tunisian assembly passed the new Constitution with 200 votes in favour out of total 216 seats in the assembly.
Assembly speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and outgoing Prime Minister Ali Larayedh signed the document on 27 January 2014 in the assembly.
• The new Constitution is a written one and it makes Tunisia a democracy with a civil state instead of Islamic state.
• It recognizes the protection of citizen rights, including protection from torture, the right to due process, and freedom of worship.
• It guarantees equality between men and women before the law and the state commits itself to protecting women's rights.
• It guarantees "freedom of belief and conscience," which would permit atheism and the practice of non-Abrahamic religions frowned upon in other Islamic countries.
• It also bans incitement to violence and declaring a Muslim an apostate — a fallen Muslim — which leaves them open to death threats.
• The constitution enshrines the freedom of religion but Islam remains as a state religion.
This is the first Constitution drafted and passed since the ousting of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali three years ago in 2011.
The new Constitution is being termed as the most progressive Constitution in the Arab world. The passage of the new Constitution will help in usher the era of democracy in Tunisia that ushered the Arab Spring in the Arab world in 2011.
Despite some drawbacks, the new Constitution is an historic compromise between identity and modernity.
It can serve as a model for other countries in the region seeking a balance between an Arab-Islamic heritage and contemporary ideas of human rights and good governance.
While the constitution itself will not solve the country's persistent unemployment, rising prices, crushing debt and constant demonstrations. Yet it will move politics forward and reassure foreign investors that the country is back on track after a rocky transition.
It is different from the draft Constitution of Egypt that was approved in the third week of January 2014. Egypt's charters were quickly drafted by appointed committees and involved little public debate or input. In Tunisia, an elected assembly of Tunisian Islamists, leftists and liberals worked on a detailed roadmap for their political future.
However, it was the overthrowing of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in July 2013 that helped the various parties reach a compromise.