Tunisian lawmakers race to finalize Constitution

Jan. 4, 2014 at 3:06 PM

TUNIS, Tunisia, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Politicians in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring had its beginnings in 2011, said they will finalize a new Constitution by the uprising's three-year anniversary.

Lawmakers in the nation's 216-member Parliament are working three sessions per day to debate and pass each article of the nation's long-awaited -- and much maligned -- first democratic governing document. The BBC said much skepticism exists among average Tunisians over the process and what the Constitution will actually do to address problems over security and corruption, but lawmakers were optimistic.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda party had been in control after the popular uprising ousted former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali Jan. 14, 2011. Political turmoil ensued when two popular secular political opponents were assassinated in 2013.

While Ennahda leaders condemned the killings, secular opposition leaders said Ennahda wasn't doing enough to tamp down militant Islamists in its ranks.

Ennahda leaders agreed to step down from power and give way to a caretaker government until a Constitution could be reached and new elections held.

It appears there is momentum toward finishing the process, with lawmakers optimistic they'll meet the self-imposed Jan. 14 deadline, the report said.

"I couldn't eat much this morning I was so stressed out. This is historic, I can't believe I am here," Mabrouka Mbarek, an assembly member for CPR, part of the interim governing coalition, told the BBC.

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