The Current Status of Tunisia’s Constitution
Today, Daniel Pickard writes for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about the current status of Tunisia’s constitutional writing process. In the first constitutional-making process “outside the influence of a dictator or colonial power,” the National Constituent Assembly has turned its focus from once though dividing issues—such as the role of religion—to more technical issues. The plan to have the new constitution approved by December 2012 is in full swing.
Six commissions made up of twenty members each are charged with a bulk of the work. Each member on the commission is drawn proportionally to the amount of seats they control, Ennahda chairs four of the commissions, the other two coming from the Congress for the Republic and Ettajdid. According to Pickard, the commissions have a specific agenda, but are more concerned with establishing a legal framework than divisive political issues. The draft will be ratified by a two-thirds majority, and sent back tot the assembly for revisions if the draft fails. If the draft fails the referendum, it is unclear what will come about. Pickard maintains that the assembly may disband and restart the process from the beginning
Pickard maintains that the real issues the assembly is attempting to deal with are institutional, and not religious. He summarizes the institutional issues in order of priority: “the system of government; maintaining the balance of power, including establishing legislative oversight of the executive, a constitutional court, and an amendment procedure; security sector reform; decentralization of power; and electoral system design.”
Pickard concludes highlighting the challenge facing the assembly is one of a balancing act as the assembly attempts to assuage the impatience of Tunisians while continuing the drafting process.