26 January 2014

Tunisia Passes Constitution, Interim PM Jomaa Names Caretaker Cabinet

Photo: World Bank
It has taken two years for the political parties to draft the country's new constitution (file photo).

Tunisia's interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa has named a new caretaker government designed to steer Tunisia towards new elections. Parliament has also overwhelmingly approved a new constitution.

Interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa on Sunday presented his new cabinet, which should lead the country to elections later in the year, if approved by Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly. Jomaa said he hoped for a vote, and for approval of his team of technocrats, "as quickly as possible."

"The objective is to arrive at elections and create the security and economic climate to get out of this crisis," Jomaa told reporters in Tunis.

Lawmakers subsequently voted in favor of a new Tunisian constitution, completed this week after a two-year drafting process.

"This constitution, without being perfect, is one of consensus," assembly speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar said after the vote, with 200 out of 216 parliamentarians approving the paper.

Tunisia's new constitution called inconsistent

It has taken two years for the political parties in Tunisia to draft the country's new constitution. The resulting document , however, has been criticized for being inconsistent and contradictory. (25.01.2014)

Interim leader Jomaa was appointed last month after the ruling Ennahda party agreed to step down in a deal with the opposition. This followed months of public and political protests triggered by the assassination of left-wing politician Mohamed Brahmi in July.

His announcement was delayed by a day due to discontent over his choice of retaining Lotfi Ben Jeddou as interior minister, the only member of the 21-strong team to hail from Ennahda's Islamist government. The opposition had alleged that Jeddou had not done enough to prevent Mohamed Brahmi's assassination. Jomaa countered that Jeddou should stay on because of Tunisia's fragile security situation and the need for continuity.

Two members of the cabinet are women, while new Finance Minister Hakim Ben Hammouda is an economist with experience at the African Development Bank. Mongi Hamdi, formerly a science and technology official with the UN, will take over as temporary foreign minister.

No date has yet been set for fresh elections but they are expected this year.

Tunisia was the first country to stage a popular uprising as part of the so-called Arab Spring, ousting President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali more than three years ago.

msh/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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