Ex-President of Ennahda denounces Tunisia draft constitution as ‘still-born’

Discordant voice

TUNIS - Ennahda hardliner Sadok Chourou denounced Saturday Tunisia draft constitution as “still-born,” slamming the different compromises over the rule of Islam in the new document.
“This constitution was drafted to serve all parties, inside and outside the country, except the Tunisian people and some members of the ANC, including myself,” he said.
“The Constitution should be written by elected representatives, as expected. However foreign parties in the Assembly have had their say and imposed many distortions, "he added.
The comments of the former president of the Ennahda movement drew the ire of many MPs, including some from the ruling Islamist party.
The head of Ennahda parliamentary group Sahbi Atig hailed progress in pushing the charter, saying it will “be the pride of all Tunisian men and women”.
Chourou joined the Ennahda Council of Shura (Consultation Board) in the early 1980s and was elected in 1988 president of the Ennahda movement, a post which he held until his arrest and imprisonment in February 1991.
On January 23rd, 2012, Chourou sparked controversy during an intervention on the Constituent Assembly session when he quoted verses from the Quran urging to crack down on protesters and anyone blocking roads in Tunisia.
Tunis Tunisian lawmakers will review the final articles of a draft constitution on Sunday, the vice-president of the assembly said, as they inch closer to a vote over the long-delayed charter.
Lawmakers pushed through another 15 articles on Saturday and will examine the final ones on Sunday afternoon, said the National Constituent Assembly Vice-President Meherzia Labidi.
The assembly is pushing ahead with adoption of the long-delayed new constitution, examining it article by article, as required before a vote on the whole text can take place.
A two-thirds majority of parliament’s 217 elected members is then needed to adopt the charter and avoid it being put to a referendum.
Articles approved on Saturday included ones concerning decentralisation.
Often sharp differences between the majority Islamist Ennahda party and the secular opposition have repeatedly obstructed the process, which was due to be completed by January 14, the third anniversary of the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Adopting the new constitution is seen as key to getting Tunisia’s democratic transition back on track, after a political crisis triggered by the assassination of an opposition MP last year by suspected militants.
Earlier on Friday, Tunisia’s parliament ratified a crucial chapter in the new constitution defining the powers of the judiciary, and began examining the 30 articles that remain before it can be adopted.
After approving articles on the creation and prerogatives of the constitutional court, they completed the chapter on the judiciary, defining the legal profession as “free and independent, and which participates in the realisation of justice and the defence of rights and freedoms.”