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Tunisia: the president extends the freeze on Parliament, new elections in a year | A look back at the Arab Spring


In a speech to the nation, Mr. Saied also announced the organization from January 1 of a series of consultations popular discussions relating in particular to constitutional and electoral amendments.

Parliament will remain suspended until new elections are organized, said Saied, which amounts to de facto dissolving the current House he had frozen by assuming full powers on July 25.

New parliamentary 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 developed in the framework of popular consultations that will take place. from January 1 to March 20.

Constitutional and other reforms will be submitted to referendum on July 25, 2022, the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic.

A quote from Kais Saied, President of Tunisia

Exceptional measures

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

By suspending Parliament, Mr. Saied 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.

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 [Constitution] no longer allows it, a new text must be drawn up. Constitutions are not eternal, he said while chairing the Council of Ministers shortly before his speech.

Citing a report by the Court of Auditors accusing Ennahdha and other parties of having received foreign funding, Mr. Saied told his ministers that those who have received and continue to receive money from abroad have no place in Parliament, threatening to dissolve the House.

They received millions of dollars and euros from abroad in previous elections [fin 2019].

A quote from Kais Saied, President of Tunisia

Power grab

Protesters carrying flags and placards

A demonstration against the Tunisian president two days before he announces that the emergency measures will remain in place.

Photo: afp via getty images / FETHI BELAID

After the president’s coup in July, Tunisian and international organizations criticized a power grab and said to fear for public rights and freedoms in the cradle of 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 an attack on freedoms, but who has been arrested or prosecuted for expressing his opinions or for demonstrating.

A quote from Tunisian President Kais Saied

There will never be a turning back, he hammered. 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 G7 and of the European Union (EU) in Tunisia called for a return fast democratic institutions in the country.

In anticipation of new measures announced by Mr. Saied, Ennahdha had denounced on December 6 a campaign of denigration orchestrated by politicians to exclude it from the political scene.

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