10 February 2014

Tunisia: 'Enough Tears for Tunisia'

Tunis — One year after the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, Tunisians on Saturday (February 8th) came out to mark the anniversary of the event, remember his message, and repudiate terrorism and violence.

"Enough tears and terrorism, let's look to the future," Belaid's widow Basma Khalfaoui, said during the demonstration. "Chokri Belaid was killed simply because he had a different political thinking," she said.

Prior to Belaid's assassination on February 6th, 2013, the leftist leader was preparing to organise a national conference to combat violence and warned on more than one occasion of the terrorist threat after the revolution.

The mood in Tunisia is that the country is finally putting its darkest days behind it, especially since Interim President Moncef Marzouki's approval of February 6th as a National Day against Political Violence.

Other recent landmarks include the adoption of the new constitution and the formation of a non-partisan government.

Zainab Gharbi, a 56-year-old pharmacist told Magharebia, "I hope his blood does not go in vain. Chokri Belaid's dreams are starting to be fulfilled, including fighting violence, uprooting terrorism, and unifying the democratic family." Waseen Nabli, 34, considered the large turn out on this occasion and from across the political spectrum evidence that Tunisian society rejects violence.

However, blogger and journalist Haitham al-Makki told Radio Mosaic FM that the National Day against Violence could turn into mere ink on paper, like the Internet Freedom Festival, long forgotten according to him.

But Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) chief Houcine Abbasi noted that one of Mehdi Jomaa's government tasks was to stop violence and establish a proper environment for the upcoming elections.

The revolution is protected by the state, he added.

The new Tunisian constitution will enter into force on Monday, February 10. Its details will be shared in the Official Journal the same day, said Constituent Assembly chief Mustapha Ben Jaafar during the celebration of the new constitution on Friday.

International leaders hailed Tunisia for its constitution.

French President Francois Hollande said: "It can serve as an example and reference to many other countries especially since it guarantees freedoms and social justice and the rights of women, children and the disabled".

"This constitution confirms that Islam is completely in line with democracy," he added, noting that it was probably the only one in the world that recognised youth as a driving force in building the nation.

Hollande said that France and the European Union would stand by Tunisia and support it at all levels in order to see the rest of the democratic transition succeed.

For his part, the president of the German Bundestag, Norbert Lammert said, "You adopted a wonderful charter and now you have to translate this wonderful text to a wonderful reality."

Maghreb figures were equally effusive. Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal called the Tunisian constitution "a giant step in the right direction" and a "great accomplishment".

Algeria would continue to support Tunisia, he said, including security along their common border.

"Aware of our shared destiny, Algeria will stand by you and work with you on the success of the democratisation process. Algeria is with you through thick and thin," Sellal added.

For his part, Libyan General National Congress chairman Nouri Abu Sahmein said, "Libya intends to follow the same path."

"Despite the difficulties, the General Congress and the Libyan government are working to ensure the conditions for a successful democratic transition similar to what was achieved by Tunisia," the Libyan official said.

Tunisians noted that the news constitution would guarantee a democratic future for them.

Ibrahim Hajji, construction materials dealer, pointed out that the document was clear in its respect for the principles of human rights.

It also showed everyone's desire to see a democratic system that guarantees the rights and freedoms of all, he noted.

"The most important thing is that it satisfied everyone, and all parties participated in its drafting. This is the democracy we want," he said.

"It's a successful first step," businesswoman Salma Ayed agreed. "We must continue on the same path in order to see more successful ones."

In his turn, constitutional law expert, Amine Mahfoudh stressed that the new constitution included many positive points compared to the one from 1959, the most important of which was the definition of the responsibilities of the president, the possibility of his or her removal, as well as term limits.


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