The Tunisian citizens are going to vote on October 23rd for the candidates who are going to be members of the future Constituent Assembly. This authority will appoint a president and a new government until presidential and parliamentary elections are going to take place. It will also be charged with writing a new constitution.
But how long will the Assembly last?
The political parties have different opinions regarding the duration of the Constituent Assembly. There are currently three positions:
49 parties, in addition to several national organizations and hundreds of prominent figures like Sheikh Abdelfattah Mourou and the lawyer Sadok Belaid created a republican alliance. The alliance called for limiting the duration of the Constituent Assembly’s mission to six months. This is to be achieved via a referendum on the same day as the elections, October 23rd.
The PDP and the Socialist Left Party (PSG) originally supported the six months option but then left the group and signed an agreement with ten other political parties belonging to the High Authority for the Achievement of the Revolutionary Objectives (HAARO) to establish a transitional process and limit the mandate of the Constitutional Assembly to one year.
The eleven parties to sign the Declaration of the Transitional Process are the following:
- Ettakatol Party
- Ettajdid Movement
- Democratic and Socialist Movement
- Democratic and Nationalistic Movement
- Reform and Development Movement
- Green Tunisia Party
- Progressive Democratic Party
- Ennahda Movement
- Democratic Labour Party
- Attaliaa Arabic Party
- Socialist Left Party
Three independent candidates — Sadok Belaid, head of “Kafaa” (ar. “Capacity”) in Ben Arous, Jawher Ben Mbarek, head of “Doustourna” (ar. “Our Constitution”) in Tunis 2 and Souhir Fourati, head of “Doustourna” in Sfax — proposed December 2012 as a date for the referendum after it has been drafted by the members of the Assembly. If the referendum passes, the next presidential elections will take place on January 14th, 2013.
These two short-term visions of the Constituent Assembly show that Tunisia cannot support another transitional period, and that the presidential and parliamentary elections should take place soon so that the government could gain its credibility again and trouble would end.
The Congress for the Republic (CPR) was the only political party belonging to HAARO that refused the agreement that the eleven other parties signed, asking for a three years Constituent Assembly. According to the CPR, the Constituent Assembly should take its time when writing the constitution since this is going to determine the future of Tunisia for the next centuries.
The head of the CPR, Moncef Marzouki, thinks that Tunisia needs a government of national unity or a constituent government that will manage the country for a three years period – the same length of the Tunisian Constituent Assembly of 1956.
The Constituent Assembly was a demand of the Tunisians who took part in the Kasbah 2 sit-in on February 2011, but its duration has not been determined, yet. The 217 elected members of the Constituent Assembly will debate about the issue and vote for a final decision.