Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi on Monday announced his support for a bill that will ensure that men and women have equal rights to inheritance.
The draft inheritance equality bill has sparked controversy as it departs from a principle inspired by the Koran in many Arab countries.
In a televised speech to mark Tunisian women’s day, Essebsi said the law would allow the testator the possibility “to either apply the Constitution or choose freedom’‘.
I propose to make equality in inheritance a law.God willing, Mr. President [of the Tunisian Parliament], when this law comes to you, you will look at it with an open mind because it is a project for the future, for the future of Tunisia and I hope it will unite [people].
‘‘I propose to make equality in inheritance a law.God willing, Mr. President [of the Tunisian Parliament], when this law comes to you, you will look at it with an open mind because it is a project for the future, for the future of Tunisia and I hope it will unite [people] “, Essebsi said.
The current law, which is based on Islamic law, provides that, as a rule, a man inherits the double of a woman of the same degree of kinship.
Meanwhile, pro-social reforms protesters gathered in the Tunisian capital on Monday to support proposed reforms by President Beji Caid Essebsi that will allow men and women to have equal rights to inheritance.
The nearly two thousand protesters largely made of women thronged the streets of Tunis to defend their rights.
Equal inheritance is one of the most debated issues among a series of societal reforms proposed by a commission created by the Tunisian president in 2017.
This Commission for Individual Freedoms and Equality suggested that the family patrimony should be shared by default equally between male and female heirs. The owner of the estate would however have the opportunity to go to a bailiff-notary to divide his property according to the rule of two-thirds.
The announcement comes as the ruling party, Nidaa Tounès, founded by President Beji Caïd Essebsi in 2012, is deeply shaken by a power struggle in his leadership in the run-up to the legislative and presidential elections scheduled for 2019.
The president called on elected officials of Ennahdha to vote for the bill, which he said must be presented to the deputies at the end of the parliamentary recess.