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Deputies pass bill empowering President of the Republic to issue decree-laws

Published the:  07/02/2011

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February 7, 2011 - TAP - The Chamber of Deputies passed, on Monday at Bardo Palace, a draft law empowering the interim President to issue decree-laws, in accordance with Article 28 of the Constitution.
The session was chaired by Mr. Sahbi Karoui, the Chamber's interim Speaker, and it was particularly attended by the Premier and the Justice Minister.
This bill is in conformity with provisions of the Tunisian Constitution's Article 28 according to which the Chamber of Deputies is entitled to empower the interim President to issue decree-laws, during a limited period of time set by the Constitution's Article 57, as part of the need dictated by the current situation the country is living through, to enact laws in different fields.
This necessity involves general amnesty, human rights, fundamental freedoms, electoral system, media, organisation of political parties, non-governmental associations and organisations, fight against terror and money laundering, taxation, ownership, education, culture, fight against natural disasters and their dangers, international trade, fiscal, economic investment conventions, international conventions relating to labour and social field and those pertaining to human rights and public liberties.
The Chamber started works by paying homage to the memory of the Revolution martyrs who had sacrificed their lives for the people's freedom and dignity, the Revolution of which youth were the pillar and which was marked by interaction of all classes and regions, to open up a new honourable page in Tunisia's history.
In an opening address, Mr. Sahbi Karoui particularly paid tribute to the National Army and all security structures, the Tunisian people and the different trends that stood up against the acts of violence, criminality, destruction and looting, and faced up all those who sought to undermine the country.
The Chamber's interim Speaker called on Deputies to set aside their political belonging, to take part in the materialisation of the people's will and help facilitate the achievement of the political change hoped for by all Tunisians, in optimum conditions, while being coherent with the people's will and with constitutional legality.
Then, Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi took the floor. He underlined that Tunisia is now going through an historic stage which has its exceptional peculiarities, a stage which requires speeding up the pace of taking legislative steps that help the people express themselves, choose their president, forge ahead on the path freedom and preservation of the rights gained and hoist Tunisia to the rank of the developed countries.
He also reviewed challenges of the transition stage, the most important of which are protections of lives, citizens' security, strengthening of stability and working out the platform adapted for resuming economic revival.
Additionally, he underlined that the bill to empower the interim President of the Republic to issue decree-laws draws its legality from the Constitution. Mr. Mohamed Ghannouchi explained that the problems and challenges, as well as the files which have piled up, dictate on the interim government to settle them.
In this respect, he called on the citizens to strive to preserve Tunisia's Revolution, the revolution of youths, those young people in Sidi Bouzid and the inland regions, the revolution of dignity and freedom.
When discussing the first article of this draft law, several deputies expressed their refusal to delegate all prerogatives set in this article to the interim President, calling to limit empowerment to urgent issues. They said that this empowerment is an indirect dissolution of the parliament.
Deputies also emphasised that the current situation and the higher interest of the Nation require swift enactment of laws.
One deputy said the adoption of this bill implies that the Chamber of Deputies be consulted by the Government on laws related to the electoral system, the press and organisation of parties.
One MP proposed to add the term "in accordance with Article 57 of the Constitution" to the first article of this bill.
Another deputy said the approval of this bill does not prevent constitutionally deputies to pull out this empowerment in case the government would depart from the republican and constitutional principles or violates the laws on the personal status.
One deputy pointed to the reform of the education sector, saying that it is not an urgent issue and does not require accordingly this empowerment, emphasising the need for these reforms to be made away from political issues.
Answering these interventions, Mr. Mohamed Ghannouchi said concerning the general amnesty that several detainees condemned after the events of the mining basin and Soliman were released.
He added that those persons will be supported to recover their material and social rights. He said legitimacy of the transition government is drawn from Article 57 of the Constitution, underlining that on this basis the government will pursue its action to ensure that the situation returns to normal.
Mr. Mohamed Ghannouchi added that the Chamber of Deputies is a constitutional institution to be consulted when discussing several draft laws, such as those related to the creation of institutions, legal procedures, determination of crimes and offences, issuing of currency and different other issues, while stressing that the government's action will be checked.
Regarding regional development, the prime minister said this issue is closely linked to economic development and social promotion, as well as to financial and fiscal aspects. He said steps to be taken by the government in the coming days will show the pertinence of this orientation with the adoption of concrete measures.
The prime minister also pointed out that losses suffered by the Tunisian economy, despite their gravity, can not hide the significant gains made by the People's Revolution. He added that preservation of free national decision- making is connected to financial and political stability, saying that Tunisia has several conventions entitling it to receive credits to carry out needed infrastructure works to facilitate development and investment in regions.
The PM also said that women's rights will be preserved and that they can not be transgressed for whatever reasons.
Article 1 of this bill was adopted, with 16 votes against and one abstention. Article 2 of this draft law was adopted, with 16 votes against and an abstention.
PM answers MPs' interventions
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi underlined in his answers to Deputies' interventions on the draft law empowering the interim President to issue decree-laws, in accordance with provisions of Article 28 of the Constitution that the most important thing today is to guarantee objective foundation, whether political or legislative, to ensure the country's transition to an advanced stage that arouses pride of all Tunisians and reflects fidelity to martyrs and their sacrifices.
He said that the deposed president's flight took place unexpectedly and occurred without informing any side of the government as there had been no contacts either with the prime minister or with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
He said that his accession to power was made in accordance with provisions of Article 56 of the Constitution and to avoid the constitutional vacuum and what this might entail in chaos, bloodshed and physical liquidation of some persons.
He said in this context that Article 57 of the Constitution could not be adopted only after consultations with the Constitutional Council allowing the Chamber's Speaker to assume the interim presidency, underlining that all guarantees were provided for the transfer of power in accordance with provisions of the Constitution.
Mr. Ghannouchi said all spoiled property has not been recovered yet and that the judiciary is currently examining complaints and applications submitted to it so that everybody recover their rights.
Answering deputies' questions on the possibility for the interim president to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies and the Chamber of Advisers, the Premier said this procedure is anti-constitutional.
Regarding legal guarantees for the organisation of the presidential and legislative elections, Mr. Ghannouchi said efforts are presently focused on preparing for the free and fair elections with the participation of all political trends and that laws will be amended and revised so that equal chances and opportunities be given to all.
He added that the upcoming elections will be held under the monitoring of an independent authority and in the presence of international observers.
Mr. Ghannouchi also said the next stage will be marked by increasing interest in inland development to guarantee fair distribution of the fruits of development and reinforcement of attributes of security and stability, in addition to consolidation of independence of the judiciary power.
He also reasserted keenness to iron out economic difficulties, preserve jobs and bring down the unemployment rate, along with attracting investment, particularly for the underprivileged regions.
Regarding the line-up of the interim government, the prime minister said several Tunisian skills are today part of this government to meet the call of the country and duty to contribute thanks to their expertise to attracting investment, saving the tourist season and creating income sources.
He underlined that the decisions taken by the interim government are collective and that all sides, ministers and secretaries of state were involved in preparing them, saying, regarding parties that are not involved in this government, that Tunisia belongs to all. He also said that, along with the interim government, there are committees which will play a major role, particularly the political reform committee whose make-up is still subject to consultations with different partners and sensitivities.
Mr. Ghannouchi stressed the need for all components of the political and civil scene in Tunisia to shoulder their responsibilities and roles to avoid any deviations that would have negative effects on the Revolution and the country.
The Premier pointed out that no one is entitled to confiscate others' ideas and that Tunisia has made gains that should be preserved, such as the Code of Personal Status, in addition to the need to respect human rights and freedom of worship. Mr. Mohamed Ghannouchi called, on the occasion, to show vigilance to avoid errors and place the interest of Tunisia above all other considerations, as part of full implementation of the principles of human rights and respect of laws and institutions. He added that duty commands to all to contribute to the success of the democratic transition process. He said that to enforce law and comply with its provisions, all sides whose guiltiness will be proved will be prosecuted. The PM also emphasised the need to see all parties, journalists, communicators, political parties and organisations combine efforts and show vigilance so that the current government helps the country reach safe haven, reasserting commitment to ensure that laws be enacted to meet the requirements of the current stage, after consultation with all sides to avoid committing errors. Mr. Mohamed Ghannouchi said justice will follow its normal course, reminding that among the measures taken in the second cabinet meeting of the current government there is the call for all government members and officials to present a declaration on honour about their property. In his answer to a call by one MP, the prime minister said that calling a square after late Mohamed Bouazizi and erecting a memorial on which will be engraved the names of all martyrs of the Revolution is the least thing we could do as a token of fidelity to their memory.