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You are here News International Arab Spring beacon Tunisia signs new constitution

Arab Spring beacon Tunisia signs new constitution

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Tunisia constitutionTunisia adopted a new constitution on Monday, a big stride towards democracy in the country that began the Arab Spring revolutions and has largely avoided the chaos and violence now plaguing the neighbors it inspired.

After years under autocrat 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 celebrations after the official signing of the constitution. Lawmakers approved it on Sunday evening, ending months of deadlock that had threatened to undo Tunisia's transition.

"This is an exceptional day for Tunisia, where we celebrate the victory over dictatorship. The government and the opposition have won, Tunisia has won," President Moncef Marzouki told the assembly after signing.

The small North African country's steady progress contrasts sharply with turmoil in Libya and Egypt, whose people followed Tunisia in ousting their veteran leaders in 2011.

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