Tunisia’s assembly finishes new constitution

The new constitution had been delayed by political deadlock over the role of Islam in Tunisia’s future political life

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Tunisia’s national assembly on Thursday finished approving all articles of the country’s new constitution just over three years after their uprising ousted autocratic leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Tunisia’s new constitution, which assembly members will shortly vote on once more to approve fully, is widely praised as a sign of progress among the countries who toppled long-standing leaders in the 2011 “Arab Spring” uprisings.

“Finally, we have reached this moment,” Assembly President Mustapha Ben Jaafar said as deputies chanted the national anthem in the assembly chamber in Tunis.

Following their 2011 “Jasmine Revolution,” Tunisia is closest to full democracy after months of tensions led to a compromise between ruling Islamists and secular leaders that contrasts sharply with upheaval in Libya and Egypt.

Tunisia’s ruling moderate Islamist party Ennahda has stepped down in a deal to make way for a technocrat administration to govern until new elections later this year, the first vote under the new constitution.

Mostly applauded for its modernity, the new constitution had been delayed by political deadlock as Islamists and opposition parties squabbled over the role of Islam in one of the most secular Arab countries.

Tunisia’s new charter and the small North African country’s compromise between Islamist and secular leaders is seen as an example of political transition after the 2011 revolts.

Egypt is in turmoil after its own elected Islamist President Mohammad Mursi was deposed by the army and jailed and his Muslim Brotherhood declared a terrorist organization.

Egyptians voted to approve their new constitution this month, advancing a transition plan from army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after he ousted Mursi in July following mass protests against his rule.

Two years after Muammar Qaddafi’s fall, Libya is still battling with transition, its constitution unwritten, its national assembly deadlocked between Islamist and secular parties, and former rebels still armed.

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