Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, has signed a decree dismissing parliament, which has been in session since last year after it defied him by voting to overturn laws that he used to gain near-total control.
Saied accused them of a failed coup and a conspiracy against state security, and demanded investigations into them, speaking after an online session of more than half the parliament members, their first since he suspended the assembly in July.
Tunisia’s political situation was exacerbated by the parliament session and Saied’s response, however it was unclear whether it would result in any immediate change in his grasp on power.
Any attempt to detain parliament members who attended Wednesday’s session, as Saied’s promise of investigations suggests, would be a huge escalation in the president’s conflict with his opponents.
“We must save the state from disintegration… In a video released online late Wednesday, Saied stated, “We will not allow the abusers to continue their attack against the state.”
When he suspended the parliament last summer, pushed aside most of the 2014 constitution, and began rewriting the political system by decree, his opponents accused him of staging a coup.
“We are not frightened to protect a legal institution,” Yamina Zoghlami, a member of parliament from the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, stated. “The people’s faith in us has not waned.” The president used a tank to seal parliament.”
Former law professor Saied claims that his activities are legal and necessary to preserve Tunisia from years of political gridlock and economic stagnation at the hands of a corrupt, self-serving elite. He says he’ll appoint a commission to rewrite the constitution, have a referendum on it in July, and hold parliamentary elections in December.
The 2014 constitution of Tunisia states that parliament must remain in session during any extraordinary time, such as the one proclaimed by Saied last summer, and that dismissing the house should result in a fresh election, which he has yet to call.
After parliament was dissolved, the Free Constitutional Party, a major opposition party that surveys suggest will win the most seats in parliament if elections were held, urged Saied to call early elections. According to the constitution, Saied has no choice but to schedule elections within three months, according to Abir Moussi, the party’s leader and a follower of the late authoritarian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
The legislative session in Tunisia on Wednesday was postponed when the online meeting platforms Zoom and Teams stopped working minutes before it was scheduled to begin. Iyadh Loumi, an independent MP, said on the radio that the government had disabled the applications in order to disrupt the session, a claim disputed by the communications technology minister.
On December 13, 2021, a television screen in Tunis, Tunisia’s capital, displays an announcement by Tunisian President Kais Saied, in which he stated that the Tunisian parliament would remain suspended until December 2022 elections, and that a constitutional reform referendum would be held in July of that year. – Saied declared a “popular consultation” with the Tunisian people in his statement on national television, adding that “additional draft constitutional and other reforms would be put forth to referendum on July 25,” a year after sacking the government and seizing a slew of powers.
As Saied tries to rewrite the constitution, seize control of the judiciary, and impose additional limits on civil society, Parliament’s greater confidence reflects growing opposition to him.
His most vociferous detractors have been Ennahda, the largest party in parliament with a quarter of the seats, and its leader, Rached Ghannouchi, the parliamentary speaker.
Despite the fact that political groups are still profoundly split, more of them are openly mobilizing against Saied and demanding that he take an inclusive approach to reorganizing Tunisia’s politics.
Tunisia deposed autocratic government in 2011 and ushered in democracy, but its power-sharing structure between the president and parliament has proven unpopular.
Saied, a political newbie, won a huge second-round victory in 2019 against a media magnate facing corruption charges, promising to clean up Tunisian politics.
Many Tunisians are disillusioned with his concentration on constitutional change as the economy deteriorates, with the government seeking an international bailout and a major labor union threatening a countrywide strike.
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