Tunisia signs new constitution
Tunisia signs new constitution

Tunisian President "Moncef Marzouki" and the head of the National Assembly signed Tunisia's new constitution today, enshrining one of its last steps toward full democracy.

After years of autocratic rule under Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's charter has been praised as one of the most progressive in the Arab world, designating Islam as the state religion but protecting freedom of belief and sexual equality.

Parliament erupted in celebration after the official signing of the constitution following its approval by assembly deputies on Sunday evening, which ended months of deadlock that had threatened to undo Tunisia's transition.

Marzouki said "this is an exceptional day for Tunisia, where we celebrate the victory over dictatorship. The government and the opposition have won, Tunisia has won".

The small North African country's steady progress contrasts sharply with continuing turmoil in neighboring Libya and in Egypt.

Tunisia's stock market rose 1.7 percent today in a sign of investor confidence in the country's stability with the constitution in place and the formation of a new caretaker cabinet that will govern until elections.

After months of crisis, Tunisia's transition got back on track when ruling Islamist party al-Nahda agreed to compromise late last year and step down to make way for a technocrat government that will preside until the vote later this year.

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