Tunisia’s constituent assembly has adopted a provisional constitution that sets the stage for the country to name a new government, nearly two months after its first post-revolution election. The 217-member assembly, elected in November, individually approved each of the 26 clauses of the document to get state institutions back on the move.
The adopted document outlines the conditions and procedures to be followed by the country’s executive, legislature and judiciary until general elections are held, possibly in a year, and a final constitution is agreed.
The vote – 141 in favour, 37 against and 39 abstentions from a boycotting opposition – came after a tumultuous five-day debate that saw thousands of people demonstrating outside the assembly building, at times over what role Islam should play in the country’s new order.
“The people are sick of waiting. Let’s get down to work, enough messing around,” one politician from the dominant moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, Amar Larayedh, shouted shortly after the session began on Tuesday.
The outgoing government of Beji Caid Essebsi, formed after the January 14 oustingof longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has officially resigned, and many Tunisians have expressed growing impatience at the institutional limbo.
The election of a president and creation of a new government could only take place once polticians adopted the “mini-constitution”. “This is a historic moment, a memorable night, the beginning of a new Tunisia,” said assembly president Mustapha Ben Jaafar, as deputies sang the national anthem and those of Ennahdha, which has 98 deputies, congratulated each other on the outcome of the vote. Ben Jaafar said he was “proud to head an assembly that groups Tunisia’s best, thanks to the revolution of its brave people”.