Tunisian assembly adopts provisional constitution
Tunisia's constituent assembly on Saturday adopted a provisional constitution that will allow the north African country to name a government, a month and a half after its first post-revolution election, AFP reported.
The 217-member assembly approved each of the 26 clauses of the document individually to get state institutions back on the move before voting on the entire basic law.
The vote -- 141 in favour, 37 against and 39 abstentions -- came after a five-day often tumultuous debate which saw hundreds of people demonstrating calmly outside the assembly building shouting slogans demanding "Freedom and Dignity".
"The people are sick of waiting. Let's get down to work, enough messing around," one lawmaker from the dominant moderate Islamist Ennahda party, Amar Larayedh, shouted shortly after the session began.
The outgoing government of Beji Caid Essebsi, formed after the ouster on January 14 of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, has officially resigned and many Tunisians have expressed growing impatience at the institutional limbo.
The election of a president and creation of a new government could only take place once lawmakers adopted the "mini-constitution", laboriously drawn up over two weeks after the elections.
"This is a historic moment, a memorable night, the beginning of a new Tunisia," said assembly president Mustapha Ben Jaafar, as deputies sang the national anthem and those of Ennahda, which has 98 deputies, congratulated each other on the outcome of the vote.
Ben Jaafar said he was "proud to head an assembly that groups Tunisia's best thanks to the revolution of its brave people".
The adopted document outlines the conditions and procedures to follow by the country's executive, legislature and judiciary until general elections are held, possibly in a year, and the adoption of a final constitution for post-Ben Ali Tunisia.
Ben Jaafar said candidacies for the presidency were open and added that the new head of state would be elected on Monday afternoon.
Moncef Marzouki, head of the Congress for the Republic Party, which has 29 deputies, was widely expected to take over the presidency and name Hamadi Jebali, the number two of the Ennahda party, as prime minister.
The ruling coalition of Ennahda and two left-wing parties, the Congress for the Republic Party and Ben Jaafar's Ettakatol, which has 20 deputies, had earlier agreed on this scenario for a transfer of power.