Tunisian bloggers slam Constituent Assembly referendum
By Mona Yahia for Magharebia in Tunis – 21/09/11
The upcoming Constituent Assembly vote remains the dominant theme among Tunisian bloggers. A recent proposal to hold a referendum to restrict the powers of the assembly has sparked a string of denunciations among online writers, who see it as a step backward.
"The demand for a Constituent Assembly came from the people," wrote Kissa Online. "Who are you to try to limit the powers of that assembly? It is the fundamental source of power, and anyone claiming the contrary is fascist and reactionary."
According to Carpe Diem, "limiting the powers of the Constituent Assembly would amount to limiting popular sovereignty and, in a way, to impact on the workings of democracy".
The proposal is "the expression of doubt and fear over the ability of the future assembly to regulate itself, to safeguard what has been achieved in Tunisia and to bring forward progressive reforms for the country", the blogger argued.
"But if we go for the option of delimiting the powers of the Assembly, then that amounts de facto to keeping the current government structures in place," he continued. "There is only one solution to this political conundrum: for the political parties to reach a prior agreement establishing a clear mandate for the Constituent Assembly."
Commentator Juriste Tunisie maintained that a referendum should only take place after the October 23rd vote, not at the same time, as proposed by some political parties.
"This would be a way for the parties who are elected to get it into their heads that they are under constant public scrutiny," he wrote.
Meanwhile, two prominent bloggers, known as "cyberdissidents" under the former regime, have been waging a war of words. Yassine Ayari and Sami Ben Abdallah have accused each other of threats and libellous text messages. The spat degenerated into a court battle, when Ayari lodged a complaint against Ben Abdallah, who was then forced to stay in Tunisia following an injunction.
Blogger Débat Tunisie expressed disgust at this post-revolutionary climate.
"Before January 14th, there was a certain amount of honour among cyberdissidents, and they would engage in well-mannered slanging matches through their blogs," he wrote. "Today, all it takes is a little quarrel and the courts are involved. Such is the pitiful domestic scene taking place between the 'star of the Net', Yassine el Ayari, and the 'star blogger', Sami Ben Abdallah."
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