Tunisia assembly begins voting on new constitution

AFP , Friday 3 Jan 2014

A general view of the opening session of Tunisia's constitutional assembly in Tunis, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Tunisia's national assembly on Friday began voting on the long-delayed new constitution, which must be adopted by January 14, the third anniversary of the 2011 revolution.

Lawmakers approved, by 175 votes out of the 184 MPs gathered for the session, the title of the charter, which is to be voted on article by article.

They were then due to examine the text's preamble, before scrutinising its 150 articles and 225 proposed amendments, completing a process that would represent a crucial milestone in the country's democratic transition.

For the constitution to be adopted, it must be approved by two thirds of the national assembly's 217 elected members or put to a referendum.

It has taken more than two years to draft the text, mainly because of disagreement between the ruling Islamist party Ennahda and opposition, which has hampered the formation of functioning state institutions.

Its adoption should also end the impasse between Tunisia's divided political factions that has gripped the country since the killing of an opposition MP in July by suspected Islamist militants.

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