Tunisia's new assembly holds 'historic' first session

November 22, 2011 15:45


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TUNIS - Tunisia's constitutional assembly, elected after a revolution that inspired the "Arab Spring" uprisings, held its opening session on Tuesday, described by officials as a historic step towards democracy.

The assembly, which will sit for a year to draft a new constitution, is dominated by a moderate Islamist party whose election win last month resonated in other countries in the region where Islamists are gaining ground after the popular protests which swept three Arab heads of state from power.

Members of the assembly, senior officials in the incoming coalition government, and ministers in the outgoing cabinet stood for the Tunisian national anthem in a ceremony to open the 217-seat assembly.

"This is an historic moment .. for the transition to democracy," Fouad Mebazza, the outgoing interim president, said at the ceremony, in the same building where the previous rubber-stamp parliament sat before the revolution.

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