Middle East

Tunisia agrees new charter's chapter on judiciary

Tunisian Mps attend a session at the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) as part of the debates on a new constitution on January 17, 2014, in Tunis. AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID

TUNIS: Tunisia's constituent assembly on Friday adopted a crucial chapter in the country's new charter defining the powers of the judiciary, and tackled others dealing with human rights and the fight against corruption.

After approving articles on the creation and prerogatives of the constitutional court, lawmakers completed the chapter on the judiciary, qualifying the legal profession as "free and independent, and which participates in the realisation of justice and the defence of rights and freedoms."

The articles defining the powers of the judiciary are particularly sensitive in a country that only recently emerged from five decades of dictatorship, and sparked angry exchanges and chaotic scenes in parliament when they were debated earlier this week.

Later on Friday MPs resumed their examination of the charter, after lengthy negotiations to forge consensus on the five "constitutional bodies." These include the electoral commission, and those responsible for human rights and the fight against corruption.

The assembly is pushing ahead with the adoption of a long-delayed new constitution, scrutinising it article by article, as required before a vote to approve the whole text can take place.

The often sharp differences between the majority Islamist party and the secular opposition have repeatedly obstructed the process, which was due to be completed by an agreed deadline of January 14, the third anniversary of the revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Adopting the new constitution is seen as a 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 Islamist militants.





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