The “success of the Tunisian model” was the phrase that echoed in the corridors of the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia yesterday [Jan. 27]. By ratifying what has been described as “the Constitution of the Second Republic” yesterday, Tunisia has the first democratic achievement of the so-called Arab Spring countries; this has sent signals of reassurance to Tunisians and the Arab world.
In a ceremony at the Constituent Assembly palace in Tunis yesterday, President Moncef Marzouki, Speaker Mustafa Ben Jaafar and the prime minister of the resigned cabinet, Ali Laarayedh, signed the Constitution amid a heavy presence of Arab and international representatives, who praised the Tunisian experience and a good start for a successful democratic transition.
The signing ceremony began with speeches from the president and the heads of the legislative and executive branches. They lauded the MPs’ efforts and expressed their satisfaction with the MPs’ work and recalled the role of the quartet that sponsored the national dialogue in bringing the political forces together and uniting them around an initiative that ensured the exit of the country from the political crisis that erupted following the assassination of opposition MP Mohammed al-Brahimi on July 25, 2013.
In his speech, Marzouki said, “This is a great day in Tunisian history. … Today we celebrate the completion of our victory over dictatorship. … The government and the opposition, the majority and the minority in their various orientations, are celebrating this victory.”
The signing of the Constitution is an event that Ennahda had to endure so that one of its important figures, Laarayedh, could associate his name with the signing of the “Second Republic Constitution” instead of the next prime minister, Mehdi Jomaa, doing so.
In his last speech before handing the reins of the government palace to his successor Jomaa, Laarayedh said, “Tunisia is experiencing diverse and different political approaches and competition between parties. But that didn’t prevent them from reaching a consensus. … We have shown that agreeing on the minimum is better than fighting over the maximum. This is our fate.”
In an interview with As-Safir, the head of the National Constituent Assembly, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, said, “The new constitution is the product of common work by deputies of all stripes, even if it didn’t receive the full number of votes in parliament when approved [200 of 217]. The number is not that important. What’s important is that all actors in Tunisian society have participated in preparing [the constitution], which lives up to their expectations. We have laid a solid foundation for a society that looks forward to democracy and human rights, and we are counting on future generations to complete what we have built.”
For his part, the assistant secretary-general of the General Union of Tunisian Workers, Mouldi Jendoubi, told As-Safir that the quartet that sponsored the dialogue will continue its role in trying to achieve consensus between political parties and will be watching with interest how Prime Minister-designate Jomaa applies the most important points of the road map, such as reviewing the appointments and preparing for fair elections. It is assumed that the Constituent Assembly will give a vote of confidence for Jomaa’s government today.
The constitutional ratification was widely welcomed internationally, starting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President Francois Hollande, and the EU Minister of Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton.
In an interview with As-Safir, US Ambassador to Tunisia Jacob Wallace said, “Today is a historic day for Tunisians and they should be proud of what they have achieved, as well as for forming an electoral body, which will provide a different future for Tunisians. Tunisia has taken a step toward democracy and succeeded in writing a constitution and in proceeding with the democratic transition. So it will get US support.”
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