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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: abdulruff
Full Name: Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal
User since: 15/Mar/2008
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Mideast: Tunisia’s new constitution and  changing politics


 


-DR. ABDUL RUFF COLACHAL 


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Tunisia, the first and only Muslim nation in Mideast that underwent,  rather  successfully, the Arab spring experience three years ago, changing,  as perhaps the CIA then wanted, the autocratic regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, has since  established  an Islamic government though without any real Islamic changes taking place in the country. .


Tunisia framed a new constitution to fulfill the promises made to the people and make the nation and people really Islamic in practice. Tunisia's national assembly with an overwhelming vote has approved the country's new constitution on 26th January in one of the last steps to establishing full democracy three years after the uprising that toppled Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.


As one of the most "secular" nations in the Arab world, Tunisia has struggled since the revolt, with divisions over the role of Islam and the rise of ultra-conservative Salafists, who the so-called “secularists” feared would try to roll back empty liberal rights.


 The new regime began drafting a new constitution and completed the  work in 2 years time  The constitution, approved on a 200-4 vote, was expected to be signed by the president, prime minister and Assembly speaker. The National Constituent Assembly was elected in October 2011 to draft the document. Tunisian lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a new constitution to replace a 1956 document drafted after Tunisia gained independence from France. Heated debates arose over issues such as the role of religion in the constitution, presidential candidacy requirements and details of the post-constitution transition. 


Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party, won the first democratic elections after long-time ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced from power in 2011. But it has faced fierce opposition from secular groups, who have accused it being Islamist.


The new constitution sets out to make the North African country of 11 million people a democracy, with a civil state whose laws are not based on Islamic law, unlike many other Arab constitutions. 


The Ennahda party, which holds more than 40 percent of the seats in the assembly, backed down on putting a number of religious-inspired measures into the constitution in the face of wide opposition.  At times the constitution looked like it would never get written, with numerous walkouts by different parties and at one point a complete suspension of its activities in the wake of the assassination of a left-wing deputy in July. In the end, Ennahda made concessions to the opposition and stepped down in favor of a caretaker government to manage the rest of the transition, allowing the constitution to be completed.


 


Tunisia's Islamists were more willing to compromise. After months of protests and deadlock, Ennahda agreed late last year to step aside for a caretaker administration of nonpolitical appointments that would govern until elections. Mehdi Jomaa, an engineer and former minister appointed as premier in December, who named his cabinet with key posts given to technocrats with international experience. Hakim Ben Hammouda, an economist with experience at the African Development Bank, was named finance minister and Mongi Hamdi, a former U.N. official, foreign minister. Jomaa told reporters that the objective is to arrive at elections and create the security and economic climate to get out of this crisis.


An entire chapter of the document, some 28 articles, is dedicated to protecting citizens’ rights, including protection from torture, the right to due process, and freedom of worship. It guarantees equality between men and women before the law and the state commits itself to protecting women’s rights.


The completion of the constitution is also a tribute to the assembly’s disparate parties to compromise and negotiate to reach a consensus. While the new constitution recognizes Islam as the country's religion, it also enshrines freedom of conscience and belief, and equality between the sexes. The text recognises equality between men and women for the first time.


Opposition parties oppose Islamic system. the assassination of two opposition leaders , though, pitched the small North African country into crisis with the ruling  Ennahda, under pressure to step down. Opposition leaders blamed Ennahda for going easy on hard-line Islamists who promoted the idea of Islamic state based on strict sharia law to make Muslims truly Islamic by shedding hypocritical beliefs. .


Tunisia's new constitution as well as the progress the new system has made contrasts sharply with messy transitions in Libya, Egypt and Yemen which are still caught up in turmoil after ousting their own long-standing leaders in 2011 revolts and uprisings.


Tunisia, under Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, could wither all negative political climate and survival without any harm done to the nation. After the historic vote, the red and white Tunisian flag was unfurled and assembly deputies embraced, danced and sang inside the chamber in Tunis to celebrate the charter, which has been widely praised for its inclusiveness. Assembly chief Mustapha Ben Jaafar said: "This constitution was the dream of Tunisians, this constitution is proof of the revival of the revolution, and this constitution creates a democratic civil nation".


Just before the constitution vote, Mehdi Jomaa appointed a caretaker cabinet as part of a deal to end a crisis between Tunisia's Islamist party and its so-called “secular” opposition until new elections this year.


Tunisia seems to move towards reconciliation of political parties. After the vote, in what many saw a symbol of compromise, Mongi Rahoui, a deputy from the assassinated leaders' party, embraced Habib Louz, an Ennahda hardliner. The two men sparred furiously over Islam last week.


Ennahda chief Rached Ghannouchi said of the charter that these advances in democracy in Tunisia should have a positive effect on the other Arab Spring countries. Such compromise, though, looks difficult elsewhere in Mideast, especially in Libya and Egypt where anti-Islamic forces have played mischief with the Islamist rulers. 


The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt by the military in July and subsequent violent repression was a stern warning to Tunisia, said Yahyaoui of Bawsala, and it helped the various parties find a compromise.


Anti-Islamic west and their agents in Islamic nations target Islamist regimes. Two years after President Col Muammar Qaddafi was toppled and assassinated by NATO led opposition army, Libya's congress is deadlocked between Islamists and a nationalist party over the route for transition, a constitution is still undrafted, and former militia fighters run amok. Egypt's own elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, has been deposed by the anti-Islamic army and jailed and his Muslim Brotherhood declared a terrorist organization. Morsi is being dragged to courts on fake charges by the military rogues. Egyptians this month approved their new constitution as part of a transition plan from army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after he ousted Morsi in July.


 


Jomaa's new cabinet will have to tackle demands from international lenders to cut public spending and curb the budget deficit without triggering protests over social welfare. Islamist militants, tied to al Qaeda operations in North Africa.


Anti-Islamic western nations say since Tunisian economy depends on European tourism and overseas remittances for its hard currency income, purely Islamic agenda might not suit the nation’s economic needs, though it enhances Islamic identity of the nation.


While the constitution itself will not solve the country’s persistent unemployment, rising prices, crushing debt and constant demonstrations, it will move politics forward and reassure foreign investors that the country is back on track after a rocky transition.


Tunisia is going to have general poll to elect government to govern the nation’s resources meant for common people. No date has been set for elections but they will be held later this year with Ennahda and key opposition alliance Nidaa Tounes likely to battle for the government. 


 


Politicians hope Tunisian unity will send out a message of stability after months of deadlock between Islamist and secular forces. 


Muslim rulers should better keep in mind without making sincere efforts to establish Islamic societies they are indeed failed rulers that prop mote and pamper only the rich and corporates.  This is what non-Muslim as well as anti-Islamic ant rulers have been doing for decades.


UN chief Ban Ki-moon hailed the agreement as a historic milestone.


Hopefully, Tunisia would now concentrate on  strengthening national economy and  establishment of Islamic society. 


Revolution would be a waste if the government which emerged as a consequence of it does not starting working on a new Islamic state to serve the cause of Islam and Islamic society with focus on  the uplift of common people.  


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