Yesterday, the Islamist party Ennahda declared on national evening television that it would keep intact Article 1 of the 1959 Tunisian Constitution.
Article 1 of Tunisia’s first constitution explicitly states that Tunisia is a free, sovereign, and independent state, whose “religion is Islam, language is Arabic, and regime is republic.”
Ennahda holds 89 – or over 40% – of the 217 seats in the National Constituent Assembly, elected on October 23, 2011. Since its election, the Constituent Assembly has been working on drafting a new constitution from scratch. On December 10, 2011, the law organizing public powers was passed, granting a provisional working constitution until the new constitution is passed and ratified.
The debate surrounding the role of religion is becoming increasingly divisive, and is seen as stalling the drafting of the new constitution.
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