See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Tunisia: Elected Constituent Assembly Holds Inaugural Session

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

November 22, 2011, was another turning point for Tunisia, the country which was the spark for the so-called Arab Spring. The constituent assembly, freely elected on October, 23 and responsible for taking charge of the draft of the new constitution, held its first session.

It was a long day not only for the 217 members of the assembly, but also for Tunisians who have been following the first session on television, radio and social media.

The inaugural session of Tunisia's democratically elected constituent assembly. Image by Ibtihel Zaatouri, copyright Demotix (22/11/11).

The inaugural session of Tunisia's democratically elected constituent assembly. Image by Ibtihel Zaatouri, copyright Demotix (22/11/11).

@sarah81m tweets [fr]:

Je crois j'ai jamais vu autant de monde suivre un debat parlamentaire pendant des heures… ca fait plaisir

I think I have never seen so many people spending hours following a parliamentary debate…What a pleasure!

During this session, Mustafa Ben Jaafar, president of the Democratic Forum for Work and Liberties, was elected president of the assembly by winning 145 votes.

Protests outside assembly headquarters

The families of Tunisian martyrs demanding justice. Image from Facebook page of Voices of the Arab Spring.

The families of Tunisian martyrs demanding justice. Image from Facebook page of Voices of the Arab Spring.

Hundreds of protesters, with different demands, gathered outside the headquarters of the assembly to put pressure on the representatives.

For instance, the families of those protesters who lost their lives during the revolution did not miss this opportunity to call for justice for those who were responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.

Other protesters, who have fears regarding the Islamist party Ennahdha, which won 89 seats, called for the protection of Tunisian women's rights – considered the most advanced in the Arab region.

Drafting a constitution that protects human rights and the rights of ethnic minorities, abolishes the death penalty, and refuses foreign intervention in the affairs of the Tunisian state, were among the demands of the protesters.

Protesters gathered outside the assembly. Image from the Facebook page Voices of the Arab Spring.

Protesters gathered outside the assembly. Image from the Facebook page Voices of the Arab Spring.

Journalist Olfa Riahi was there and shared her experience [fr] on her Facebook profile:

Une journée historique. Deux petites heures devant le parlement au Bardo pour voir comme nous sommes différents, passionnés, tous assoiffés d'une nouvelle Tunisie malgré des perceptions très diverses.(…) Les slogans retentissaient de chaque côté, dans l'adversité souvent mais presque jamais dans la violence

A historic day. Two short hours in front of the parliament in Bardo, to see how much different, and passionate we are, and thirsty for a new Tunisia, despite the so diverse perceptions. (…) Slogans echoed every side, often opponent but never violent

Slim Amamou (@slim404) tweets [fr]:

Beaucoup de monde a la manif. Qui a dit qu'il y aura 100 personnes? #22nov #tnac http://twitpic.com/7hrctr

Many people in the protest. Who said there will only be 100 people?
A message from one protester to the expected Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali: ''Mr. Hamadi Jebali, I do not want to have to tell you 'Get Out'". Image posted on Facebook profile of Soukaina W Ajbetni Rouhi.

A message from one protester to the expected Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali: ''Mr. Hamadi Jebali, I do not want to have to tell you 'Get Out'". Image posted on Facebook profile of Soukaina W Ajbetni Rouhi.

Though the protesters had different slogans and diverse demands, they all agreed that they will be closely watching the assembly and the new government, and will not accept any steps that might take them backwards.

Twitter reactions

”A historic day”, this is how November 22 was described – just like October 23 (Election Day) and January 14 (the day former President Zeine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia). Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:

@neotunisien: Encore un jour historique pour la Tunisie #tnac Inchallah zina

@neotunisien: Another historic day for Tunisia. #tnac God willing, everything will be OK

@kepler1208: la démocratie reste un processus long et douloureux à établir…mais la #tunisie réussira INCHALAH à relever ce défi par excellence #TnAC

@kepler1208: democracy is a long and painful process to be built… but God willing, Tunisia will succeed in meeting this challenge par excellence

@inesTN: Pas eu le temps de l'écrire, mais je le fais maintenant FIERE D ETRE TUNISIENNE :)) #tnAC #Tunisie #tnelec

@inesTN: I did not have the time to write it, but I'm doing it now, proud to be Tunisia :))

Live session

The inaugural session was televised, aired on radio, and tweeted live. This is a first for a country where parliamentary sessions and decision making processes used to take place behind closed doors.

Mabrouka Mbarek (@mabmbarek), a representative at the assembly for the Congress for the Republic (the party that came second in the election), was tweeting the session live via the hashtag #tnAC. She even tweeted her vote concerning the assembly presidency, saying [fr]:

Transparence et opengov : pour une vraie rupture avec l'ancien regime. Un vote ouvert car nous representons le peuple

Transparency and open government: for a real split from the former regime. An open vote because we represent the people

In other Arab countries

As Tunisia peacefully takes another step forward in its democratic journey, bloodshed continues in other Arab countries, where protesters are being murdered for their democratic aspirations. Here are some of the reactions from Twitter:

@mabmbarek: Alors que l’ #TnAC se reunie pour la 1 ere fois auj, j'ai une pensee speciale pour #Egypte #Yemen et #Syria

@mabmbarek: While the Tunisian assembly holds its first meeting today, I'm particularly thinking about #Egypt #Yemen and #Syria

@oussemos: نقول الحمد لله #tnAC و بعد نشوف #Tahrir كي نشوف

@oussemos: When I see what's going on in #Tahrir and then take a look at #tnAC I thank God

@H_a_z_e_m: يجب ان لا ننسى اخواننا المصريين في نظالهم ضد قوات الامن و الجيش في وقت تجرى فيه اول جلسة للمجلس التأسيسي في بلادنا

@H_a_z_e_m: We should not forget our Egyptian brothers in their struggle against the security forces, and the army, at a time when the first session of the constituent assembly is taking place in our country

The second session of the assembly took place on November 23. The assembly will also vote to choose a president and a prime minister. However, it is obvious already that Hamdi Jebali from Ennahdha will become prime minister and Moncef Marzouki from the Congress for the Republic, president. This is due to the three-party coalition formed by Ennahdha, the Congress for the Republic, and the Democratic Forum for Work and Liberties (20 seats).

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site