Today, February 13th, 2012, the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly began work on drafting the country’s new constitution. The drafting process, divided between six commissions, is expected to conclude in a maximum of 18 months – corresponding with Hamadi Jebali’s proposed deadline for holding presidential elections.
The commissions are established along individual themes in the constitution: preamble, general principles and amendments, rights and liberties, legislative and executive powers, judiciary order, constitutional institutions, and regional and local public collectives – respectively from first to last in order of appearance within the constitution.
Lobna Jribi, a Constituent Assembly member representing the Ettakatol party on the first commission dealing with the preamble and general previsions, commented on the commission’s first day of work. “Today, we discussed the method of work to be used, and elected the commission’s administrative figures – including its president and vice president,” she said. Sahbi Ellatig from Ennahda was elected as the first commission’s president.
According to Jribi, the commission will be meeting again tomorrow, February 14th, to, “deepen our understanding of the methodology of work and to discuss the commission’s framework, limitations, and bounds.”
Abderraouf Ayadi, an assembly member from the Congress for the Republic (CPR) party, sits on the fourth commission, working on drafting the country’s judicial code. “We elected Fadhel Moussa [of Modernist Democratic Pole] as the commission’s president and Latifa Habbachi [Ennahda] as it’s vice president. We will be meeting again on Friday to start delving into the subject matter,” he said.
Each of the six commissions is composed of 22 members, and seats on each respective commission are allocated as follows: 9 Ennahda, 3 CPR, 3 Democratic Coalition, 2 Ettakatol, 2 Liberty and Dignity Coalition, 1 seat for independents.
The work of writing a new constitution has only just begun, with a plethora of diverse, and potentially divisive, issues to be dealt with. The constitution will cover issues ranging from defining the country’s national identity to determining its form of government and formulating that government’s procedural bylaws.