A troika of political leaders in Tunisia has pledged to draft a new constitution and stand up against counter-revolutionary forces at a ceremony to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Tunisian Republic. Interim president Moncef Marzouki; the head of the interim government, Hamadi Al-Jebali; and the president of the constituent assembly, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, joined Arab and foreign ambassadors to Tunisia and other local political leaders, including Sheikh Rashid Al-Ghannouchi, the leader of Al-Nahda Party, at the event.
The troika agreed to uphold the republic as the system of governance in Tunisia and praised the experience of the national constituent assembly in the declaration of the republic in 1957. Speakers at the ceremony agreed unanimously on the need to reach national consensus in order to fulfil the demands of the revolution that brought their parties to power.
Dr. Ben Jaafar confirmed that important steps have been taken in the transition towards democracy, but pointed out that many challenges still face the constituent assembly and political leaders. Not least of these is the quality of the political system, the constitution and the upcoming election and its timing. He stressed that consensus is the only way to move forward.
The anniversary of the proclamation of the republic, said President Marzouki, comes at a time of historical importance, with Tunisia leading the way in the establishment of the first real Arab democracy. "The republic represents the finest democracy," he explained. "However, there is no meaning for any political democracy if it's not accompanied by social justice and balanced development, as there is no good in a democracy that does not feed the hungry or clothe the naked."
The interim president also highlighted the importance of consensus between the various political and civil forces that play an active role in establishing the new democratic experience. "The mission is to maintain Tunisia's independence and sovereignty, as well as achieving equality," he said, pointing out that this will not happen through self-satisfaction, "but by enhancing cooperation in the Maghreb and Arab region".
Hamadi Al-Jebali used his speech to renew his government's commitment to the implementation of the tasks entrusted to it by the law of temporary powers to take the country through the interim phase and bring stability. "The only way to do this," he insisted, "is through the constitution and elections." He committed the government to conduct the next general election on 20th March 2013.