Skip to main content

Tunisia approves new constitution, appoints new government

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian, CNN
updated 4:33 PM EST, Fri February 7, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tunisia's national assembly approves a landmark constitution
  • It's the first constitution since longtime leader Ben Ali's ouster in 2011
  • The prime minister, a technocrat, also appoints new caretaker government
  • The milestones contrast sharply to messy transitions in Libya, Egypt and Yemen

(CNN) -- Tunisia's national assembly approved the country's landmark new constitution -- its first since the ouster of longtime president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali three years ago.

The text was passed with 200 votes, the state news agency TAP reported. Twelve members voted against the measure, and four abstained.

Alongside the vote, Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa appointed a caretaker Cabinet as part of a deal to end a crisis between Tunisia's Islamist party and its secular opposition until new elections.

The approval of the new constitution is one of the last steps to establishing full democracy in the North African country, the cradle of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that toppled autocratic leaders in one of the most conservative corners of the world.

Life in the aftermath of the Arab Spring

Its drafting lasted two years and exposed a deep rift between the Islamist Ennahda party and the secular opposition.

But after months of political crisis and sporadic violence, Sunday's milestones contrast sharply with messy transitions in regional neighbors Libya and Egypt -- still caught up in turmoil after ousting their own longtime leaders in 2011 revolts.

Celebrating the vote, assembly members made victory signs and sang the national anthem, TAP reported.

"All eyes around the world are fixed on Tunisia's democratic experience," assembly chief Mustafa Ben Jaafar was quoted as saying by TAP.

Political turmoil

The once-banned moderate Islamist Ennahda party won elections in October 2012 -- the first after Ben Ali's ouster in January 2011 -- and formed an Islamist-led government.

But political turmoil has beset the country, which relies heavily on foreign tourists for revenues.

Under a deal agreed between Ennahda and the opposition, the ruling party agreed to hand over power once parties had finished writing a new constitution and appointed an electoral commission to oversee new elections.

TAP said Jomaa's new government was made up of 21 ministers and seven secretaries of state. It consists mainly of technocrats

Jomaa, an engineer and former minister, was appointed premier in December.

Tunisia represents a rare bright spot in a still volatile region following the Arab Spring uprisings.

Two years after Moammar Gadhafi was toppled, Libya's government is weakened by political infighting and fragile security forces, a constitution has yet to be drafted and armed militias do as they please in a country awash with weapons.

Egypt's own elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsy, was deposed by the army. The country's interim government has labeled his Muslim Brotherhood organization as a terrorist group.

Egyptians this month approved their new constitution as part of a transition plan from army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi after he ousted Morsy in July.

Editors' Note: This article has been edited to remove plagiarized content after CNN discovered multiple instances of plagiarism by Marie-Louise Gumuchian, a former CNN news editor.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT