Tunisia assembly to examine final articles of new constitution
AFP, Saturday 18 Jan 2014


Tunisian lawmakers will review the final articles of a draft constitution Sunday, the vice president of the assembly said, as they inch closer to a vote over the long-delayed charter.

Lawmakers pushed through another 15 articles on Saturday and will examine the final ones on Sunday afternoon, said the National Constituent Assembly vice president Meherzia Labidi.

The assembly is pushing ahead with adoption of the long-delayed new constitution, examining it article by article, as required before a vote on the whole text can take place.

A two-thirds majority of parliament's 217 elected members is then needed to adopt the charter and avoid it being put to a referendum.

Articles approved on Saturday included ones concerning decentralisation.

Often sharp differences between the majority Islamist Ennahda party and the secular opposition have repeatedly obstructed the process, which was due to be completed by 14 January, the third anniversary of the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Adopting the new constitution is seen as key to getting Tunisia's democratic transition back on track, after a political crisis triggered by the assassination of an opposition MP last year by suspected Islamist militants.

The head of Ennahda's parliamentary group Sahbi Atig on Saturday hailed progress in pushing the charter through, saying it will "be the pride of all Tunisian men and women".

But others in the party are unhappy about compromises over the rule of Islam in the new document, with Ennahda hardliner Sadok Chourou denouncing it as "still-born".

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