Co-written by Farah Samti
The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) committee charged with defining the roles of the executive branch under Tunisia’s new constitution could not reach a consensus during its latest round of voting today. The committee discussed point by point today the draft articles of the chapter on the executive branch.
The Committee of Legislative and Executive Powers and the Relationship Between Them was split along party lines during its voting on Article 50 of the chapter, which delineates the president’s authority over the military and over the state security apparatus.
The head of the committee, Amor Chetoui, chose to pass the draft law to the Committee of Coordination and Drafting, a separate drafting committee, rather than exercise his right to break a tie vote and approve the law for the final draft of the constitution.
“It makes the process longer,” said Ikbal Mesadaa, a member of the Legislative and Executive Powers Committee and representative of the Congress for the Republic (CPR) that is part of the leading coalition. “It’s been close.”
The Committee voted in support of presidential qualifications that require the candidate to be under 75 and relinquish non-Tunisian citizenship.
But it was deadlocked on Article 50, which addresses, among other authorities, whether the president should hold the title of commander in chief, have the power to appoint military chairmen, and dictate security policy without an endorsement from the parliament, according to Mesadaa.
Chetoui, also a member of CPR, said the Committee is aiming to craft a mixed government system that combines aspects of a parliamentary system, in which the powers of the presidency are reduced, with that of a presidential system.
“In the old constitution, the president used to be the center and source of all power,” Chetoui said. “But this constitution the president only has an arbitrating role.”
The Committee aims to discuss tomorrow the appointment of ambassadors, the president’s power to propose legislation, and the impeachment process, Chetoui said.