Tunisia approves new constitution

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mehdi Jomaa, the interim Prime Minister of Tunisia.
Image: Copyleft.

The Tunisian National Assembly approved a new constitution yesterday, a step towards running elections in the country. A new cabinet has been appointed by the Prime Minister, Mehdi Jomaa.

Mustapha Ben Jafar, speaker of the National Assembly, welcomed the constitution's passage: "This constitution was the dream of Tunisians, this constitution is proof of the revival of the revolution, this constitution creates a democratic civil nation".

The constitution recognises Islam as the religion of Tunisia but also includes provisions guaranteeing freedom of conscience and equality between men and women. The struggle between Islamism and secularism has been a recurring theme in Tunisian politics since the Arab Spring uprising three years ago: as in Egypt, Salafists have sought to push the country towards embracing sharia law and other hard-line Islamist policies. Last year, the ruling Ennahda party agreed to step down after their political opponents said their government had not done enough to seek justice for the assassination of opposition politicians by Islamist militants.

Mehdi Jomaa, the interim prime minister, appointed a new finance minister — the economist Hakim Ben Hammouda, formerly of the African Development Bank — and a new foreign minister — Mongi Hamdi, formerly an official for the United Nations.