Tunisia | President extends Parliament’s lockdown and retains full powers

(Tunis) The Tunisian President Kais Saied, who granted himself the authority a month ago, extended the freezing of parliament “until further notice” and plunged the young democracy a little more into the unknown, in a context of acute economic and social crises.

Posted on Aug 24, 2021 4:50 PM

Imed LAMLOUM and Kaouther LARBI Agence France-Presse

The Presidium published a brief statement on his Facebook account: The Head of State “issued a Presidential Decree to extend the extraordinary measures to freeze the activities of Parliament and to lift the immunity of all MPs until further notice”.

Parliament, “a danger to the state”?

“Parliament is a threat to the state,” Saied said in an interview with Trade Minister Mohamed Boussaïd on Tuesday to justify the measures taken in this country in North Africa, which ten years later is the only survivor of the “Arab Spring.” “.

Existing political institutions and the way they work pose an ongoing threat to the state.

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied

The Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the strongest parliamentary force, voiced its “concern over the unconstitutional extension of the exceptional measures” on Tuesday evening.

He reiterated his “fundamental stance” which saw Mr. Said’s July 25 decisions as a “blatant violation of the constitution”.

The Kais Saied coup dates back to July 25th. The trained lawyer relied on an article of the constitution that provides for extraordinary measures in the event of “imminent danger” to national security in order to give himself full powers to dismiss Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and to suspend parliament for 30 days.

” Next days “

While Mr Saied has been silent lately, this decision to extend the parliamentary suspension of activity was “expected”, the AFP politician Slaheddine Jourchi reacted on Tuesday and swore “a certain slowness in important measures since July 25”.

According to him, the president wants to “show inside and outside that he is in no hurry and that he is calm”.

It “prepares the ground for measures that could be more radical,” such as “freezing the constitution or abolishing it and dissolving parliament,” argued Jourchi.

It became clear […] that the President does not want anyone else to be in power ”.

The political scientist Slaheddine Jourchi on President Saied’s coup

Faced with growing doubts about the head of state’s intentions, the presidency announced that it would address “the Tunisian people in the coming days”.

Kais Saied has still not appointed a new government or presented a “roadmap” called for by several political parties and civil society organizations since his coup.

His decision has been called a “coup” by some lawyers and his political opponents, particularly the Ennahdha party.

Anti-corruption

In light of the allegations, Mr Saied reiterates that he is strictly “acting within the law” and the 2014 Constitution.

Many Tunisians have also enthusiastically welcomed their measures: Angry about their political class, they expect strong action against corruption and impunity in a country in which the social, economic and health situation is very difficult.

However, if the president enjoys great popularity in Tunisia, his coup worries the international community, who fear that the cradle of the Arab Spring will revert to authoritarianism.

France said Tuesday it had “taken note of President Saied’s decision”.

Paris “stands by Tunisia to meet the challenges it faces and which require urgent action that President Saïed will take while respecting the legitimacy of the people,” a spokesman for the Quai d’Orsay told the AFP.

Decline of freedoms

Since July 25, an anti-corruption purge has focused fears of a decline in freedoms in Tunisia.

Former civil servants, business people, judges and members of parliament are charged with arrests, travel bans and house arrest on the simple decision of the Interior Ministry without explanation, and human rights defenders are denounced.

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