Last day of discussions and vote on articles of the constitution
Thursday 23 January 2014
The last plenary of the Assembly began with the sad news of the death of deputy Mohamed Allouch, who died the previous night of a heart attack. Deputies’ sadness was palpable throughout the process of adoption of the final articles of the constitution. Two deputies left the Assembly as they did not accept to attend this session so soon after the loss of their colleague. Although a number of deputies demanded the postponement of the session, the President of the Assembly insisted that, although he shared their sadness, the greatest gift to their late colleague would be to complete the adoption of the constitution to which he had contributed.
The previous day, deputies, journalists and observers waited all day for a session which continued to be postponed as consensus hadn’t been reached on Article 6 and on transitional provisions.
The controversial Article 6 was presented for a third vote with a new reformulation which seemed to find favour with most deputies. The new version maintains the prevention of calls of takfir (accusations of apostacy) as well as attacks on sacred beliefs.
Once again, the Assembly witnessed the theatrical anger of deputy Ibrahim Gassas (previouslf of al-Aridha, then Nidaa Tounes, currently independent), who had threatened that he would not allow the Article to pass. However, the President and his two deputies, and members of the Assembly seemed determined to complete the long-awaited vote on all articles of the constitution.
An important amendment proposed to lower the age of eligibility for candidacy in legislative elections from 23 to 20 years. Over the previous days, youth organisations had lobbied deputies to convince them of the importance of this amendment to Article 52. Although they succeeded to gather the necessary number of signatures to re-open discussion on the article, deputies rejected the amendment and voted to maintain the age limit of 23 years.
A new version of Article 146 regulating the order in which various provisions of the constitution would come into effect, was presented. The adoption of the Article concluded the long and arduous work of the Assembly over two years and three months to produce a new constitution for Tunisia, the third after those of 1846 and 1959.
The last vote was followed by a spontaneous standing ovation and deputies singing the national anthem, with chants of “Long live Tunisia” and “Faithful to the blood of the martyrs”.
The floor was opened for final comments, and many deputies paid tribute to their late colleagues Mohamed Brahmi and Mohamed Allouch.
Despite the remaining work needed before the entire text is adopted, a general feeling of relief was perceptible within the Assembly.
The Assembly’s website has published the final text of the Constitution (link) which is due to be presented for a vote, and upon achieving the approval of two-thirds of deputies, it will be adopted, then ratified by the President of the Republic, the President of the Assembly and the Prime Minister.
The Jasmine Foundation’s own unofficial English translation of the complete constitution can be found on our website.
Click the link below to download the PDF version.
The First Unofficial English Translation of the Tunisian Constitution.PDF