7 February 2014

Tunisia: Hollande - New Tunisian Constitution Confirms That "Islam Is Compatible With Democracy"

Tunis, (TAP) French President François Hollande hailed the new constitution of Tunisia, calling it "a major text" that establishes a republican, democratic and participatory system within the rule of law.

The Tunisian constitution enshrines pluralism, separation of powers, good governance and independence of the judiciary, he said in a speech before the National Constituent Assembly in an official ceremony to celebrate the constitution.

This is a major text, because it is the fruit of an institutional compromise, honours the Tunisian revolution and can serve as an example and reference to many other countries, he indicated.

Hollande stressed that the constitution also enshrines the principle of equality and guarantees freedom of belief, conscience and freedom of worship.

"It confirms what I had said right here last July in this assembly that Islam is compatible with democracy.

In your constitution, you recall the commitment of you people to the teachings of Islam and human rights as universal values," he indicated.

He also noted that the Tunisian constitution is probably the only one in the world that recognises youth as a driving force in building the nation.

"You thus recall the vital role that Tunisian youth have played in your revolution. But you also send a message to this new generation in the world that want to take its place in all societies," he noted.

This constitution also wants to protect the acquired rights of women and achieve gender parity in elected councils, he added.

It also wants to recognise the rights of children and the rights of people with disabilities. It is in this sense that your constitution is a progressive text with universal calling, he indicated.

President Hollande also said that Tunisia has taken a major step which, he said, comes after many others.

Thus in three years, the Tunisian people had the strength to overthrow a dictatorship. They had the audacity to organise the first free elections in their history. They also had the courage to convene a constituent assembly and overcome several challenges, including the assassination of Chokri Belaid on February 6, 2013, then Mohamed Brahmi on July 25 of the same year, he said, paying tribute to all martyrs.

Hollande also paid tribute to Tunisians who, despite the violence, terrorism and provocation, managed to overcome the discord and strife.

"You have shown that dialogue and respect were the best way to ensure civil peace, necessary stability and therefore economic development," he stressed.

Hollande also hailed the role of the Quartet composed of the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Bar Association and the Tunisian League for Human Rights which helped in the success of the national dialogue, he indicated.

He also praised the role of the civil society, saying what makes the originality of the Tunisian revolution and even the constitution, is the role of the civil society.

"This is the sign that three years after what happened when the dictatorship was overthrown, the mobilisation of the Tunisian people has never ceased to be strong," he added.

The French President also spoke of the many challenges that lie ahead including the preparation of the electoral law, the organisation of presidential and legislative elections, ensuring the security of the territory, economic recovery and improvement of living conditions of Tunisians.

"In this endeavour, France will be at you side, fully at your side, under the partnership I had defined when I came last July," he argued.

He recalled, in this context, that France and Tunisia have signed many co-operation agreements in several fields: security, culture, education, youth, economy and is already acting on the return of ill-gotten assets.

The Funding I had announced are available to the tune of 500 million euros for your development projects, he underlined.

He added that France will continue to advocate with European partners so that Tunisia receives all the support it deserves for the process it has initiated.

"We may also send a message to those who want to visit Tunisia, urging them to come here with large numbers because it is a hospitable, welcoming, beautiful and democratic country," he said.

Hollande, finally, called on Tunisians to work more for the success of their revolution and the establishment of a true democracy.

"Your responsibility is great and goes even beyond your country. It is here that the revolution that inspired the Arab Spring was born (...) You have, therefore, the obligation to succeed for yourself but also for all countries watching you," he stressed.

Tunisia is not an exception, but it is an example, he argued.

"You have shown that democracy is for all continents, all civilisations, all religions, all cultures. You embody hope in the Arab world and far beyond," he added.

Each nation writes its own history. You now have the framework that allows to act, a constitution. Keep the spirit that was on its basis, he concluded.

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