B Explanatory memorandum
by Ms Brasseur, rapporteur
1. Since the very beginning of
the Tunisian revolution in early 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly
has been paying close attention to political developments in this
country, which are of major importance not only to Tunisia, but
also to the entire southern Mediterranean and Middle East region,
as well as for Europe as a whole. Tunisia can in fact be considered
as the cradle of all the revolutions in the Arab world, now habitually
referred to as “the Arab Spring”.
In Resolution 1791
on the situation in Tunisia, for which I had the honour
to be rapporteur, the Assembly voiced its steadfast support for the
democratic aspirations of the Tunisian people. It affirmed its readiness
to enable Tunisia's institutions and civil society to benefit from
its experience of accompanying democratic transition and called
on the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General of the Council
of Europe to strive to help secure a successful transition in Tunisia.
3. The Parliamentary Assembly observed the elections to the National
Constituent Assembly (NCA) held on 23 October 2011.
4. As the transformations brought about by the revolution could
not take place overnight, I deemed it important for our Assembly
to be able to monitor this process over time. Therefore, in October
2011, I tabled a new motion for a resolution on political transition
in Tunisia, and I was appointed rapporteur in January 2012.
5. The aim of this report is to provide information on the principal
political events in Tunisia since the Parliamentary Assembly's last
resolution (June 2011), to review the contacts and co-operation
established between the Council of Europe and Tunisia and to put
forward proposals for the future.
6. The Parliamentary Assembly should continue its close monitoring
of the situation in Tunisia in the coming months and years, and
this report will not be the last.
2 Political developments and challenges
7. From the start of the Tunisian
revolution it was clear that there could be no immediate solution
to the country's problems and that some time would be needed to
realise the hopes of a better, dignified life that inspired the
Tunisians who caused the downfall of the former regime. It was feared
that the difficult economic and social situation, which continued
to deteriorate, would have repercussions capable of slowing down democratic
8. However, despite these unfavourable conditions and a number
of fairly isolated incidents of varying gravity, the political situation
has remained stable on the whole.
9. The elections to the National
Constituent Assembly held on 23 October 2011 constitute the key
political event of the last 12 months. The manner in which the Tunisians
succeeded in managing these elections and the broad acceptance of
their results within Tunisian society are positive factors that
distinguish Tunisia from many other countries in transition.
10. Since the fall of the Ben Ali regime, Tunisia had in fact
been governed by “revolutionary legitimacy”, that is without institutions
resulting from a democratic process. That situation could not last
without risking a collapse of the provisional government's authority
in the face of the economic difficulties and growing popular demands.
11. The organisation and conduct of the elections was entrusted
to an independent body, the Independent High Authority for the Elections
(ISIE) chaired by Mr Kamel Jendoubi. The legal framework was devised
within the Higher Authority for Realisation of the Objectives of
the Revolution, Political Reform and Democratic Transition presided
by Mr Yadh Ben Achour.
12. These two bodies did a remarkable job and should be congratulated
for having organised the first genuinely transparent, free and fair
elections in the country's history.
13. Tribute must also be paid to the efforts made by Mr Beji Caïd
Essebsi's interim government to guarantee a stable and calm climate
for the elections. As we noted in our previous report, none of the
members of the interim authorities stood as a candidate in the elections
or attempted to influence their outcome.
14. The elections aroused considerable interest in Tunisian society
and breathed new life into the country's politics. The liberalisation
of the conditions of access to the political process resulted in
the launch of over 110 political parties. According to the ISIE's
official figures, 828 lists of political parties, 655 lists of independent candidates
and 34 lists of coalitions were registered with a view to the elections.
Overall, there were 11 618 candidates for 217 seats, resulting in
a truly pluralistic choice.
15. The Parliamentary Assembly was invited to observe the elections,
and I had the honour of being a member of the observation mission.
I also participated in the pre-electoral and post-electoral missions
(14-17 September 2011 and 16-17 January 2012 respectively).
The Parliamentary Assembly's ad hoc committee responsible
for observing the elections concluded in its reportNote
the “citizens of Tunisia have achieved this rendezvous with history.
For the first time, they have freely elected their National Constituent
Assembly, laying the foundations of their democracy. They have thus transformed
the revolutionary dynamic into a legal and legitimate institution,
thereby setting an example for the entire region.”
17. The observation mission's report also noted that the candidates
were treated on an equal footing, including in terms of media coverage
of the campaign, and that the Tunisians voted with dignity and enthusiasm.
18. The elections were admittedly not perfect: the Parliamentary
Assembly delegation's report mentioned a number of deficiencies
and problems that should be resolved in time for the next electoral
19. The most significant weakness was the registration of voters
on the electoral rolls. According to the information in our possession,
some 1.6 million people out of 6.1 million citizens entitled to
vote were not registered, corresponding to more than one quarter
of the electorate. The Tunisian authorities must settle the problem
of the electoral rolls so as to guarantee that future elections
abide by the principle of universal suffrage and that all citizens
having the right to vote are able to do so.
20. However, in spite of certain deficiencies, the elections were
a success, and the results were generally well accepted within society.
No major complaints were lodged, although the announcement of the
results left many disappointed candidates.
21. One party emerged as the clear winner: the moderate Islamist
party Ennahda (Renaissance), which was established in the early
1980s and banned by the former regime, scored the highest number
of votes and won 89 seats out of 217 in the NCA.
22. The remainder of the seats were shared among a dozen other
parties and the independent candidates.
23. It is worth recalling that, during the preparation of the
elections, the interim authorities tried to promote gender equality
and sought to assure an equitable representation of women in the
Constituent Assembly. One of the conditions of admissibility of
the candidate list was to include the same number of candidates
of both sexes and to list them alternately. Only 7% of the lists,
however, had a woman in first place. As a consequence, only 59 women
were elected, which represented 27% of the 217 seats of the NCA
and was in decline compared to the previous legislature (30%).
2.2 Establishment of State institutions
24. In the wake of the elections,
three parties – Ennahda (89 seats), the Congress for the Republic
(CPR) (29 seats) and Ettakatol, or the Democratic Forum for Labour
and Liberties (20 seats) – formed the “troika” coalition holding
the majority in the NCA. Representatives of these parties were accordingly
appointed to key positions within the new interim authorities. The
chairs of the highest levels of government were divided between
the three ruling parties.
25. On 22 November 2011, the NCA elected Mr Mustapha Ben Jaafar
(President of Ettakatol) as its Speaker. He scored 145 votes (68%),
while 32% went to the opposition candidate, Ms Maya Jribi.
26. On 10 December 2011, the NCA adopted a “mini constitution”:
a law containing 26 clauses governing the interim organisation of
the public authorities in Tunisia.
27. On that basis, the NCA elected the new interim President of
Tunisia on 12 December 2011. Of the 10 candidates put forward, only
Mr Moncef Marzouki (CPR), the former Secretary General of the Tunisian
League of Human Rights, satisfied the eligibility conditions under
the “mini-constitution”. He was elected with a score of 153 votes
and was sworn in the following day.
28. The troika then formed an interim government: on 14 December,
President Marzouki asked Mr Hamadi Jebali, secretary general of
the highest-scoring party, Ennahda, to constitute a government,
which took office on 24 December 2011 following a vote of confidence
by the NCA.
2.3 Organisation of the work of the NCA
29. The elected representatives
sitting within the NCA belong to seven parliamentary groups, three
of which form the majority.
30. After adopting its rules of procedure in January 2012, the
NCA set up its working bodies: a bureau and 17 commissions.
Six constitutional commissions, each with 22 members, are
responsible for drafting the chapters of the future constitution:
- preamble, general principles
and constitutional amendments;
- constitutional bodies;
- human rights and freedoms;
- the legislative and executive powers and the relationship
- the ordinary, administrative, financial and constitutional
- regional and local authorities.
There are also eight legislative commissions:
- rights, freedoms and foreign
- general legislation;
- finance, planning and development;
- energy and manufacturing industries;
- service industries;
- infrastructure and the environment;
- social affairs;
and three special commissions:
- rules of procedure and immunities;
- victims of the revolution and general amnesty;
- administrative reform and the fight against corruption.
32. A joint committee on co-ordination
and drafting of the constitution was also set up to consolidate
the work done by the six constitutional commissions.
33. During our visit to Tunisia in January 2012, we were told
that the sessions of the NCA and its constitutional commissions
were broadcast on television and were open to the public and to
civil society representatives. I was nonetheless informed that,
in practice, access to the commissions is too restricted. The commissions
also invite Tunisian and international experts to provide input
to their work.
34. Some uncertainty surrounds the duration of the NCA's term
of office. Just before the elections an agreement was drawn up and
signed by 11 main political parties, providing that the Constituent
Assembly's mandate should not exceed twelve months. However, the
twelfth party, the CPR, which was expected to join this agreement,
withdrew at the very last minute, thereby making this provision
of the agreement ineffective.
35. Currently, most of those with whom we had discussions at the
levels of the NCA and the government concur that the NCA should
have completed its work by no later than eighteen months after the
elections and that new elections should take place in the spring
of 2013. However, the text of the mini-constitution does not set
a legal limit on the duration of the NCA's mandate and, consequently,
nor does it institute any limit on the terms of office of the State
authorities it has established (the president and the government).
Some members emphasised that they regretted the cumbersome structures
in place which prevented a speedy completion of work.
36. The Speaker of the NCA, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, nonetheless announced
on 10 May 2012 that the new constitution should be ready by 23 October
2012 at the latest.
2.4 Reshaping the political landscape
37. Another important task that
lies ahead is redrawing the political scene. The emergence of over
100 political parties in the run-up to the elections was doubtless
necessary to give Tunisians a sense of being involved in shaping
their country's future.
38. However, one consequence of this compartmentalisation is that
a large proportion of society, those who voted for the small parties,
is not represented within the NCA.
39. Furthermore, the political groups that only obtained a small
number of seats have little influence on decision making.
40. It is therefore only natural that the small parties should
seek to join forces. Within the NCA, the opposition groups are forming
coalitions. Mergers are also taking place between parties in accordance
with their political tendencies. This is to be welcomed. Even for
political pluralism's sake, it seems excessive that a country with 10
million inhabitants should have over 100 parties.
2.5 Civil society
41. Tunisia has a well organised
and active civil society, which plays a full part in political debate
within the country. The various civil associations and organisations
existed before the uprising of 2011 and are therefore well established
with the public. They played a major role in mobilising the population
during the revolution and continue to make themselves heard today.
42. At the same time, in view of the significant fragmentation
of the country's political forces just before the elections to the
NCA, a large number of key figures within the political parties
and civil society were not elected. Nonetheless, they do not intend
to remain silent during the constitutional process and they are
seeking to transfer the debate on the future constitution from the
NCA to the public arena.
43. This attitude should be welcomed, as the future constitution,
which is expected to shape the country's future for the coming decades,
must become a matter for all Tunisians. It is essential that the
constitution guarantee the rights and freedoms that inspired the
Tunisian revolution and permit the emergence of a modern, open,
2.6 The major challenges facing Tunisian
2.6.1 The role of Islam
44. One subject that has caused
much debate both within the NCA and in civil society is the role
45. During Ben Ali's rule, political organisations with Islamic
leanings were banned and their members severely persecuted. The
current head of government, Mr Jebali, served more than sixteen
years in prison, including ten in solitary confinement. A number
of ministers and elected members of the NCA also spent many years
in prison, some after being sentenced to death.
46. The fall of the former regime allowed scope for free political
expression by the various groups with Islamic tendencies, including
the Ennahda party which achieved the highest score in the elections.
This legitimate, but in many quarters unexpected, victory caused
the proponents of secularism to fear an Islamisation of the country.
47. These concerns are not completely unfounded in the light of
the activism of certain Islamist groups that are far more radical
than the moderate Ennahda party, in particular the Salafi movement.
The latter's supporters, for example, call for Tunisian women to
be obliged to wear the full veil (niqab) and attack press and other
media outlets which, in their view, fail to respect Islamic traditions.
48. In spring 2012, these groups mobilised thousands of demonstrators
calling for the constitution to make reference to the Sharia as
the primary source of law. The secular parties and civil society
organisations in turn organised demonstrations in favour of the
protection of democratic values and freedoms and the preservation of
a secular State.
49. In addition, attempts are being made to exert an external
influence on Tunisia's believers. It has been noted that foreign
preachers with radical Islamic leanings are making increasingly
frequent visits to Tunisia, where they exhort violence and practices
at variance with Tunisian law and traditions.
50. According to some Tunisian experts, the funding for the Salafist
movement and political Islam in Tunisia comes, at least in part,
from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
51. Faced with this phenomenon, civil society organisations have
lodged a complaint against the use of mosques and holy places for
52. A number of elected members of Ennahda have come out against
a separation of politics and religion and stated that the future
constitution must not include provisions that contradict the Koran
53. Ennahda's leaders have sought to calm people down and to foster
a public consensus. The party's president, Rached Ghannouchi, has
underlined the need for a separation between preaching and politics
and asserted that mosques are not forums for parties.
54. Ennahda’s ruling body has also decided, by a large majority,
not to press for the future constitution to contain an explicit
reference to the Sharia as the primary source of law. The party
has given its consent to reusing the wording of the first article
of the Constitution of 1959 which mentioned Islam as the country's religion.
55. Another major challenge to
political stability is to put an end to insecurity. According to
statistics announced by the interior minister in February 2012,
during the twelve months following the revolution, some 400 national
guard and police stations were attacked, 800 vehicles of different
kinds were set on fire and 12 000 individuals were arrested for
pillaging, acts of violence or attempted murder.
56. In addition to routine crime a new threat is emerging: the
growing activism of Salafi groups. In February 2012, 12 people bearing
arms were arrested at Bir Ali Ben Khalifa (in the south-east) following
violent clashes with security forces. A large number of weapons
were seized. According to the interior minister, these people, some
of whom came from Libya, had links with extremist organisations
based in that country (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, AQIM) and
were seeking to found an Islamic emirate in Tunisia.
57. Other elements claiming Salafist ties are becoming increasingly
radical and using intimidation against public figures known to have
taken stances in defence of secularity and democratic freedoms.
Since January 2012, a number of incidents involving assaults or
threats against journalists, researchers, male and female politicians
and trade unionists have been recorded. Political violence constitutes
an infringement of public and individual freedoms that threatens
to seriously undermine the climate in the country and to jeopardise
the political process.
58. The situation is compounded by public attitudes towards law
enforcement agencies, which many regard as relics of the former
regime. It should be noted that a large share of the public considers
that the police's behaviour has scarcely changed in the wake of
the revolution: several demonstrations have been put down by the
police using excess force.
59. The police are also suspected of having greater tolerance
for protagonists of the Salafi movement than for trade union demonstrators
and other civil society representatives. For instance, they were
accused of remaining inactive when a group of students close to
the fundamentalist Islamic movement blocked access to Manouba University
(Tunis) for a number of days at the end of 2011-beginning of 2012
in support of female students' right to sit their exams while wearing
the niqab, which is against the university's rules. In another incident
at the same university in March 2012, an activist with fundamentalist
tendencies removed the national flag of Tunisia and replaced it
with a black flag containing Islamic slogans.
60. A far-reaching reform of the security forces is accordingly
necessary to enable them to guarantee security and therefore regain
the trust of the people, who doubt the police's loyalty to the political
61. One means of progressing towards a reform of the police service
and a reinforcement of its authority is to eradicate impunity within
the forces. The Tunisian people are not ready to forget the role
played by the police in repressing the revolution: during the fighting,
at least 338 lives were lost and over 2 300 people were injured.
62. A significant step has recently been taken in this direction:
at the end of April 2012, the Military Tribunal in Sfax found two
police officers guilty of murdering a demonstrator on 14 January
2011 and sentenced them to twenty years' imprisonment and to pay
compensation to the victim's family. Other similar trials should
63. Impunity is, however, a broader issue and does not end with
mere underlings carrying out orders. It is true that the former
head of State, Ben Ali, and the members of his inner circle were
tried in absentia. However, the
Tunisians expect other members of the former regime to be held to
account for their acts. The restoration of an independent and efficient
judiciary is essential to gain the confidence of Tunisians in their
2.6.3 Inter-ethnic tolerance
64. Despite extremist groups' attempts
to undermine them, inter-ethnic tolerance and peaceful cohabitation of
the different religious communities do not seem to be in jeopardy.
Israeli Minister Silvan Shalom's call on all Jews living in the
“Arab Spring” countries to move to Israel has for instance not been
taken up by the Jewish community in Tunisia.
2.6.4 The situation of women
If the situation of women in
Tunisia, and their position in society, seems to be better than
in most other countries in the region,Note
it is nonetheless necessary to ensure the
preservation of the acquis
this domain. Lately, there have been worrying signs: supporters
of radical Islam have sought to attack this acquis
for example, to introduce polygamy.
2.6.5 The media
66. Although the media freedom
conquered during the revolution seems to be gaining a hold in the
Tunisian people's minds, it is not safe from attacks by extremist
groups and, to a certain extent, circles close to power.
67. Some members of the press have been prosecuted and arrested
for publishing pictures deemed to contravene morality and tradition.
Others have been assaulted by extremists.
68. Recently, a private television channel, Nessima, was fined for showing the animated
film “Persepolis” in autumn 2011. After the screening of the film,
which included a representation of Allah (banned by the Islamic religion),
the head of the television channel received death threats and his
home came under attack.
69. The authorities reasserted their support for freedom of expression,
while the main opposition parties stated that they were against
putting journalists on trial as it ran counter to the goals of the
revolution and to the Tunisian people's aspirations regarding press
70. At the same time, the quality of the media and the positions
adopted by journalists have been drawing fierce criticism from members
of the majority within the NCA (in particular the Ennahda and CPR
parties). They are accused in particular of denigrating the government's
efforts, conveying a negative image of the majority and instigating
a biased media campaign in the interests of the counter-revolution.
71. Similarly, the public television channel Al-Wataniya came
under pressure from a group of protesters considered to be close
to Ennahda, who accused it of being in the hands of former members
of the Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD), the pro-Ben Ali party,
and called for it to be “cleansed”.
72. Some Ennahda officials have raised the possibility of privatising
the public channels. For instance, in an interview with Qatari and
Omani media, the party's president, Mr Ghannouchi, mentioned the
possibility of “taking radical measures in the news media domain
including, possibly, privatising the public media”.
73. In a report published to mark World Media Freedom Day, on
3 May 2012, the Tunisian journalists' union described the challenges
confronting the Tunisian media. Among other matters the report mentioned
the fact that many of the country's journalists have been subject
to physical and verbal pressures from the police, political circles
and citizens with political affiliations.
2.6.6 The economic and social situation
74. The economic crisis in Tunisia
is one of the most serious threats to achievement of the transition
and stability objectives.
75. Contrary to some people's euphoric expectations, the Tunisian
revolution did not improve the State of the national economy. Quite
the opposite, economic results for 2011 were catastrophic.
76. In 2011, foreign investment in the Tunisian economy decreased
by 32%. Tourism sector revenues, the main source of foreign currency,
fell by 40%.
77. The economic situation in Tunisia also suffered the repercussions
of the slowdown in Europe, particularly in the eurozone, Tunisia's
leading economic partner, and of instability in Libya, its second
78. Unemployment grew steadily during 2011, reaching over 740 000
by the year end (19% of the working population). In comparison,
the May 2010 figure was 13%.
79. More than 72% of the unemployed are young people aged under
30. The unemployment rate is higher for women (28%) than for men
(15%). More than 220 000 of the unemployed (30%) are higher education graduates.
80. The population group most committed to the revolution – young
graduates – is accordingly the most disadvantaged. This poses a
major risk in terms of their support for the transformation process.
81. The newly won political freedoms, combined with the authorities'
inability to offer immediate solutions to the crisis, have led to
unprecedented social unrest – strikes, sit-ins, blockades of undertakings
or roads – which has in turn deterred potential investors.
82. Popular discontent with the social and economic situation
sometimes assumes violent forms. In February 2012, violent protests
took place in Bou Salem, during which a number of official buildings
were wrecked and set on fire.
83. Immediately upon being elected, President Marzouki called
for a six-month political and social truce to enable the new provisional
government to implement its economic programme.
3 Co-operation with the Council of Europe
3.1 Parliamentary contacts and prospects
for the future
84. As I already mentioned in the
earlier reports, the Parliamentary Assembly has played a pioneering
role in supporting the transition process in Tunisia and establishing
contacts with the various components of Tunisian society.
85. In the absence of a parliamentary institution, these contacts
initially targeted the interim authorities, specific bodies such
as the “Ben Achour Authority” and the ISIE, the political parties
and civil society players. This was the case in particular during
the observation of the elections on 23 October 2011.
86. From the very inception of the NCA, an elected body with both
constitutional and legislative responsibilities, we established
contacts with it: during the post-electoral visit in January 2012
we were received by the Speaker of the NCA, Mustapha Ben Jaafar,
and we had talks with representatives of the main political groups.
87. During the same visit, we raised the possibility of inviting
Mr Ben Jaafar to address our Assembly and discussed possibly inviting
Tunisian elected representatives to participate in a meeting of
the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. These two proposals
were well received by our contacts. The President of the Parliamentary
Assembly, Mr Jean-Claude Mignon, officially confirmed them in a
letter to Mr Ben Jaafar.
88. The chairperson of our committee, Mr Pietro Marcenaro, went
to Tunis in April 2012 to participate in a colloquy organised by
Tunisian civil society organisations. On that occasion, he had a
meeting with Speaker Ben Jaafar and reiterated our invitation.
89. During the Assembly's April 2012 part-session we were able
to welcome NCA representatives to a meeting with our committee,
including Ms Meherzia Labidi Maïza, the First Deputy Speaker. The
Tunisian delegation also held many other exchanges with representatives
of both the Assembly and other sectors of the Council of Europe
and participated in the hearing on the role of women in the Arab
90. I hope that this visit will mark the start of a sustained,
fruitful relationship. The Tunisian elected representatives indeed
showed a strong interest in the work of the Assembly and its committees
and were able to obtain information and establish contacts that
will be useful for their activities within the NCA.
At present, the NCA's representatives can participate in our
proceedings on the basis of Resolution
on strengthening co-operation with the Maghreb countries.
At the same time, it can be recalled that in Resolution 1819 (2011)
on the situation in Tunisia, we invited the Tunisian
authorities to “consider the prospects for parliamentary dialogue
offered by the Partner for Democracy status recently established
by the Assembly”.
92. I therefore can but once again encourage our Tunisian partners
to take advantage of this opening. I am confident that this will
further both the consolidation of the parliamentary system in Tunisia
and the country's progress towards democracy.
3.2 Programme of co-operation between
the Council of Europe and the Tunisian Government
In January 2011, the Parliamentary
Assembly encouraged the Tunisian authorities to intensify and broaden
co-operation with the Council of Europe and to take advantage of
its experience during the country's transition towards democracy
(Resolution 1791 (2011)
, paragraph 13).
Six months later, in June 2011, the Assembly made a number
of proposals to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (Resolution 1819 (2011)
), and recommendations to the Committee of Ministers (Recommendation 1972 (2011)
), aimed at mobilising the Council of Europe's resources
to offer concrete, effective assistance with the implementation
of democratic reforms in Tunisia.
95. I can but welcome the fact that these initiatives are today
being acted upon. In the context of Secretary General Jagland's
proposals for the Council of Europe's policy towards its immediate
neighbourhood, a series of action plans are being drawn up to give
form to structured co-operation with neighbouring countries, including
96. The aim of this programme (Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities
for Tunisia for 2012-2014) is to accompany Tunisia's democratic
transition and help it take up the challenges in the fields of human
rights, the rule of law and democracy.
The prime objectives of this co-operation are to:
97.1 enable Tunisia to benefit from
the Council of Europe's experience of establishing democracy through
the offer of expertise, good practices, training, advice, mentoring
97.2 consolidate Tunisia's presence within Council of Europe
bodies with which it has already initiated co-operation (the Venice
Commission, the European Pharmacopoeia, the Pompidou Group's MedNET network)
and encourage its participation in other partial agreements and
97.3 bring Tunisian legislation more into line with Council
of Europe standards, with a view to the possible ratification of
certain conventions open to non-member States.
98. The proposals set out in the document are the outcome of consultations
between the Council of Europe and the Tunisian authorities, and
accordingly meet the latter's tangible needs.
99. As regards human rights, the programme includes activities
to strengthen gender equality, prevent and combat violence against
women and children, and promote the integration of people with disabilities
and social rights in the sphere of health.
100. Concerning the rule of law, it entails accompanying the constitutional
reform, justice system reform and the efforts to combat corruption,
economic crime and cybercrime.
101. Lastly, the projects in the field of democracy concern support
for the electoral process and the reform of the country's political
institutions, and promotion of democratic governance.
102. This chapter also contains a parliamentary dimension in which
the Assembly will be involved.
103. I consider that the development and implementation of this
co-operation must command our support. But should we stop at that?
In my opinion, the Parliamentary Assembly should find an appropriate
means of keeping itself informed of the implementation of this process
and provide it with political backing if necessary.
104. A year and a half after the
“Jasmine Revolution”, which put an end to the authoritarian regime
and paved the way for democratic changes in Tunisia, the country
is well advanced in the reform process. Tunisians now enjoy the
main democratic freedoms denied to them under the former regime.
However, democratic transition and the achievement of conditions
allowing people to lead a dignified life – the goals that inspired
the Tunisian revolution – will take time.
105. The elections to the National Constituent Assembly held on
23 October 2011 conferred democratic legitimacy on the transition
process triggered by the January 2011 revolution. The NCA, whose
primary role is to prepare and adopt the country's new constitution
within a reasonable time frame, also fulfils legislative responsibilities.
It elected the president of the republic and passed a vote of confidence
in the new provisional coalition government.
106. We must congratulate the Tunisians for having been the first
of the Arab Spring nations to endow itself with institutions which,
albeit provisional, derive their legitimacy from a democratic and
generally accepted process.
107. The future constitution, which will shape the political and
institutional system for years to come, should reflect, as far as
possible, the expectations of the majority of Tunisians and enshrine
the universal values of respect for human rights and fundamental
freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. We encourage the elected members
of the NCA and civil society to draw on the constitutional experience
of the countries of Europe and to take advantage of the expertise
and advice offered by the Venice Commission, in which Tunisia holds
108. The results of the elections held in October 2011, in which
the moderate Islamist party Ennahda obtained the largest number
of seats in the NCA, could cause fears of an Islamisation of the
country and of a limitation of freedoms. However, the Tunisians
have learned to make use of the political freedoms they won during
the revolution and are ready to defend them against any attempted
restriction. The country's politics are very dynamic, and the various
political forces and popular movements are grouping together and
making themselves heard.
109. The active role played by Tunisian civil society, which is
a key asset for transition, should be particularly welcomed. We
encourage civil society to remain vigilant and positively committed
to the reform process.
Tunisia's new transitional authorities still have to face
a number of challenges:
economic and social situation remains difficult in Tunisia and continues
to have serious implications in terms of political stability. Achieving
a successful economic recovery, reversing growth in unemployment
and restoring hope of a dignified life to Tunisia's young people
are key issues on which the success of the political transition
110.2 Far-reaching reforms in the areas of justice and security
are necessary to restore the Tunisian people's confidence in the
judiciary and the police, do justice to the victims of the former
regime, eradicate insecurity and impunity and thus re-establish
the authority of the State.
110.3 Radical elements claiming to belong to the Salafi Islamic
movement are seeking to take advantage of both the newly won freedom
and a degree of instability of various State authorities so as to
impose on Tunisian society certain religious choices and practices
based on their own interpretation of religious doctrine, which may
jeopardise fundamental freedoms.
111. However, despite these challenges, the transition process
in Tunisia is on the right path. We encourage all the country's
political forces and civil actors to continue making a positive
contribution to democratic transition while seeking to maintain