The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) voted Wednesday against a proposal to form a committee to investigate the events surrounding the September 14 attack on the U.S. Embassy.
Najib Hosni, a member of the opposition Freedom and Justice bloc, proposed the committee, but his efforts fell short of the necessary 109 votes over concerns that the NCA was not equipped to handle the investigation.
Support and opposition for the proposal crossed party lines, and the vote ultimately came down to political wrangling between the executive and legislative branches of government.
“Investigating what happened at the embassy is very important,” said Ikbel Msadaa, a representative of the Congress for the Republic party. “But the decision should be interpreted in its context. It’s not a political issue.”
Under Tunisia’s current political structure, the NCA cannot access necessary and reliable information to effectively investigate the incident, Msadaa said.
The Constituent Assembly launched a similar commission to investigate the events of April 9, when police assaulted both civilians and journalists after a protest on Habib Borguiba turned violent. That investigation took months to begin and ultimately yielded no meaningful results, according to Msadda.
After the failures of the April 9 committee, “some members voted against Wednesday’s proposal, feeling that committees were being used by the government to bury the truth and not reveal it,” said Issam Chabi, a member of the opposition party Jomhouri who voted for Wednesday’s proposal.
Some NCA members said they hoped Wednesday’s vote only postponed the investigation into the events at the Embassy until a permanent investigative committee could be devised under more amenable terms.
Mona Ibrahim, a member of Ennahdha who voted for the proposal, said that a potential “Defense and Security Committee” could deal with future incidents as opposed to the NCA undertaking investigations on a case-by-case basis.
She said that she had voted for Wednesday’s proposal in hopes that the investigation would send a message to the world that Tunisia does not condone violence.
She added that she did not foresee the failed proposal harming Tunisian-American relations.
“The decision should have no impact on the relations between the U.S. and Tunisia because everyone has condemned the attack from the beginning,” Ibrahim said.