Tunisia: President extends freeze on Parliament, announces referendum and legislative elections

At the end of November, he assured “Prepare for the trip” of the state of emergency. Three weeks later, Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed announced that he was extending the suspension of Parliament until new legislative elections were held in December 2022.

In a speech to the nation, Monday, December 13, Mr. Saïed also announced the organization, from 1is January, from a series of « consultations » popular discussions relating in particular to constitutional and electoral amendments. “The Parliament will remain suspended until the organization of new elections”, declared Mr. Saïed, which amounts de facto to dissolving the current Chamber – which he had frozen by assuming full powers, on July 25. “New legislative elections will take place on December 17, 2022 on the basis of a new electoral law”, he added.

This new law, as well as constitutional amendments, will be drafted in the framework of popular consultations that will take place. “From 1is January until March 20 “. “Constitutional and other reforms will be submitted to referendum on July 25, 2022, anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic”, he added.

In the midst of a socio-economic and health crisis and after months of political deadlock, Mr. Saïed, elected by universal suffrage at the end of 2019, invoked on July 25 a “Imminent danger” to dismiss the Prime Minister, suspend the activities of Parliament and regain control of the judiciary.

By suspending Parliament, Mr. Saïed effectively removed from power the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the main parliamentary force and pillar of successive government coalitions since the fall of the regime of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, overthrown in 2011.

After two months of uncertainties, he promulgated, on September 22, a decree which formalizes the suspension of several chapters of the Constitution and establishes “Exceptional measures”, supposed to be provisional, the time to carry out “Political reforms”, including amendments to the Constitution of 2014. In October, he appointed an academic with no political experience, Najla Bouden, to head a new government with considerably reduced prerogatives.

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Change of Constitution

The president repeats over and over again that the current Constitution, which in 2014 established a rather parliamentary hybrid system, is dysfunctional. “If the people can no longer exercise their sovereignty because the text [la Constitution] no longer allows it, a new text must be drawn up. The Constitutions are not eternal ”, he said while chairing the Council of Ministers, shortly before his speech.

Citing a report from the Court of Auditors accusing Ennahdha and other parties of having received foreign funding, Mr. Saïed told his ministers that ” those who [avaient] received and continuous[aient] to receive money from abroad[avaient] no place in Parliament ”, threatening to dissolve the House. “They received millions of dollars and euros from abroad in previous elections [en 2019] », he added.

After the president’s coup in July, Tunisian and international organizations criticized a “Grabbing of power” and voiced their fears for public rights and freedoms in the cradle of the “Arab Spring”. His detractors accused him of leading a ” Rebellion “.

“What coup are they talking about? They also speak of the power of one man and of an attack on freedoms, but who has been arrested or prosecuted for having expressed his opinions or for having demonstrated ”, he defended himself in his speech. “There will never be a turning back”, he said. “Those who want to take us back must know that the people and history have rejected them. ”

A few days before this speech, the ambassadors of the member countries of the Group of Seven (G7) and of the European Union (EU) in Tunisia called for a return ” fast “ democratic institutions in the country.

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Tunisia: President extends freeze on Parliament, announces referendum and legislative elections

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