The National Constituent Assembly (NCA) committee tasked with writing Tunisia’s new constitution produced a final draft on Tuesday, but members of a commission of experts chosen to review it are refusing to do so.
The Joint Committee for Coordination and Drafting had a deadline of April 27 to complete its work. A commission of constitutional and linguistic experts was chosen to undertake a final reading of the draft before submitting it to the Speaker of the NCA, the Prime Minister, and the President.
However, most of the experts selected for the commission have refused to participate in its work. Acceptance by the commission is not legally required, but it was created as final stamp of approval for the draft constitution.
In an interview with Tunisia Live, constitutional expert Kais Saied explained the reasons behind his refusal to be a part of commission.
“As choices were already made, experts have nothing to add at this point,” said Saied. “It is now a political matter, not a legal one.”
Saied, along with other experts, attended sessions of the different subcommittees that assisted in drafting the constitution and shared his views and suggestions with members of the NCA, he said. This included perspectives from similar constitutional experiences in other countries.
“The final agreement has to take place among political parties,” he said. “Politicians should have the final say and be held responsible for it.”
Fadhel Moussa, a member of the NCA representing the opposition Al Massar party, told Tunisian radio station Mosaique FM that the experts panel was not well-chosen, as some of its members did not have a clear understanding of the constitution. He also expressed doubts about reaching a political consensus on the final draft.
A national dialogue has been taking place during the past week among parties of the ruling Troika coalition, opposition parties, and Tunisia’s largest union, the UGTT. According to Mosaique FM, a consensus was not reached among political leaders on the structure of Tunisia’s next political system – whether it will be presidential, parliamentary, or mixed.
The same source also reported that Nidaa Tounes, a large opposition party, is no longer participating in the dialogue as an act of protest.