Tunisian lawmakers adopt new constitution

Jan. 27, 2014 at 8:15 AM
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TUNIS, Tunisia, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Tunisian lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a new constitution to replace a 1956 document drafted after Tunisia gained independence from France.

The constitution, approved Sunday on a 200-4 vote, was expected to be signed by the president, prime minister and Assembly speaker Monday, Tunisia Live reported.

The National Constituent Assembly was elected in October 2011 to draft the document, which organizers said they hoped would be completed in a year. Political disputes and assassinations of two politicians extended the process.

Heated debates arose over issues such as the role of religion in the constitution, presidential candidacy requirements and details of the post-constitution transition, Tunisia Live said.

Lawmaker Zied Laadhari of the Islamist Ennahdha party praised the finished product.

"It's a result in which everybody can find himself and that's the most important thing," he told Tunisia Live. "It's a mixture of compromise between the different political and social forces in the country and that's a very good thing."

Assembly member Mbrouka Mbarek of the Congress for the Republic party told Tunisia Live the constitution was progressive in several areas, including provisions for sustainable use of natural resources and decentralization of government.

"We are the first country in the world to put open government in the constitution," Mbarek said.

Mbarek said the constitution will be implemented over time.

"We won't feel the effects right away. We are going to implement it slowly," she said.

The new constitution is part of the transition since the 2011 unrest that led to the ouster of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

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