Tunisia PM says new constitution by 2012: Media

Tunisia`s popular uprising in January toppled autocratic president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Updated: Jun 20, 2011, 14:36 PM IST

Tokyo: Tunisia`s Prime Minister Beji Caid
Essebsi said his interim government plans to adopt a new
constitution by early 2012 to speed up the democratisation
process, a Japanese newspaper reported Monday.

"We want to adopt a new constitution within six
months" of a scheduled October 23 vote for a constitutional
assembly, Essebsi was quoted as telling Japan`s Nikkei
financial daily in an interview in Tunis on Saturday.

Tunisia`s popular uprising in January toppled
autocratic president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked
revolts across much of the Arab world. Ben Ali fled into exile
and faces a trial in absentia that starts today.

Essebsi told the Nikkei that by adopting a new
constitution, Tunisia should return to a normal state
conforming to law as soon as possible.

He added that dates for a presidential vote and other
elections will be decided after the October 23 vote, the
report said.

The premier also predicted that the political uprising
will depress economic growth to one percent this year and said
Tunisia will need about USD 2.5 billion in international aid
over a five-year period.

Ben Ali faces charges related to theft, drugs and
weapons at a criminal court in Tunis. He has denied all
charges against him.

The former strongman fled to Saudi Arabia on January
14 in the face of a popular uprising against his 23-year rule
and is to be tried in absentia by a criminal court over some
93 cases against his entourage.

PTI