By Afro-Middle East Centre

During the four years following former president Ben Ali’s ouster in January 2011, Tunisians have experienced tumultuous changes: the economy has stagnated, security has worsened, and increased freedoms have wrought a resurgence in public expressions of religiosity. On the political scene, four governments have been formed, two politicians have been assassinated, and a new constitution has been adopted in its fourth draft.

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

A recent document titled the ‘citizenship initiative’ has raised a great deal of controversy in the Tunisian political arena. Immediately after the committee tasked with preparing the draft electoral law took its vote, Yadh Ben Achour, the president of the Higher Political Reform Commission, announced that his commission would begin discussing how to make the document binding on the Constituent Assembly (parliament) and on candidates who will be standing for the elections scheduled for next July.

 In the first round of discussions over the document, the drafting of which largely took place outside of the parliament, several members from the Islamist Nahda Movement and the pro-republican Congress for the Republic raised concerns relating to the legality of obliging the Constituent Assembly to ratify a document passed by an unelected body. Despite the flexibility shown by the Nahda representatives who supported the idea of adopting the ‘initiative’ as a ‘republican contract’ or ‘democratic oath’ that would have a moral but non-binding character, the Congress for the Republic stuck to its previous position: that the commission was not in a position to impose any obligations that could limit the freedom of the next Constituent Assembly.

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