The Restriction of Authority in the Ottoman Geography and Constitutionalism: the Tunisian Experience
Tunisia had been under Ottoman rule since 1574, although in practice it was largely an autonomous province. In the middle of the 19th century, increased European economic and political influence and despotism of the Tunisian Bey prompted the British and the French to force the Bey to issue Ahd al-Aman (Security Covenant; September 1857), a civil rights charter modeled on the Ottoman Tanzimat and Islahat Edicts. The Ahd al-Aman granted certain rights and freedoms for non-Muslim subjects. British and French consuls urged Muhammad Bey (1855-1859) to grant a constitution based on the provisions of the Ahd al-Aman. Muhammads successor, Muhammad al-Sadiq Bey (15591882), formally promulgated the constitution in 1861(Kanun ad-Dawla), the first of its kind in Muslim territories. The constitution, consisting of 13 headings and 114 articles, established a constitutional monarchy with the Bey and his ministers responsible to the Grand Council, which consisted of 60 councilors nominated for five years and chosen by the Bey and his ministers from among the ministers, high officials, senior officers and notables. The Grand Council participated in the preparation of laws. The executive power belonged to the Bey and his ministers. The independence of the judicial power was recognized in the constitution. With the eruption of the Ali Ben Ghedhahem revolt in 1864, Sadiq Bey cancelled the 1861 Constitution.
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