7 January 2012

Tunisia: Constituent Assembly Members Vote in Favor of Transparency

Members of the Constituent Assembly voted today, January 7th, for the inclusion of a clause guaranteeing transparency and open government in the country's constitution.

Among the 152 members, 149 voted in favor. Article 62 reads - after the vote was taken: Public information is the rule, secrecy is the exception. It is up for members of the committee to decide [when exceptions will be made].

The issue of transparency was brought before the Assembly due to the tremendous efforts of OpenGovTN. The initiative, started by a number of young Tunisian professors and students living in Tunisia and abroad, aims at including the principles of transparency in the Tunisian constitution and in the administrative reform process. OpenGovTN's main objective is to include the Tunisian citizens in the government's decision making process and for citizens to have unrestricted access to information on government processes.

Aymen Gamha, a member of OpenGovTN, asserted that the initiative, which started as a strictly independent movement, quickly gained the support of 11 Constituent Assembly members belonging to CPR, PDP, Ennahda, Ettakatol and Afek.

A campaign, with the slogan "Open up", was launched to publicize the OpenGovTN initiative. This campaign has already gained public interest through its official Facebook page and through other social media.

Aymen stated that OpenGovTN has five propositions for the Constituent Assembly. The first proposition is to create a TV channel that broadcasts the Constituent Assembly meetings Live. Aymen acknowledged that the national TV channels do broadcast the sessions - but only do so as a temporary measure.

The second proposition is to publicly publish the reports of various governmental commissions. OpenGovTN suggests the division of the committee sessions into closed sessions (depending on the topic being discussed - national security, national defense...), work sessions (to be decided by the Commission President), and public sessions - discussing the conclusions reached by the commission on matters in question.

The third proposition is to record the votes of each member of the Constituent Assembly on different laws. This will help citizens hold their representatives accountable for their decisions.

The fourth proposition is to take attendance of the Constituent Assembly members during meetings, and to make these records public. This measure will enable the constituents to judge the competence of their elected representatives.

The fifth and last proposition is to keep record- either stenographically of through the use of voice recordings - of the debates and speeches and of every member of the Assembly. This will help keep track of members statements regarding various issues.

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