Home News Tunisia: President dissolves Parliament, eight months after suspending it

Tunisia: President dissolves Parliament, eight months after suspending it

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Eight months after suspending him to assume full powers in July 2021, Tunisian President Kais Said announced the dissolution of Parliament on Wednesday March 30, shaking the democratic experience in the country, the cradle of the Arab Spring.

A few hours before, deputies had taken part in a meeting during which they had voted the cancellation of the exceptional measures taken by the Tunisian president.

Following this act of “rebellion”, the Tunisian head of state, Kais Saied, took the decision to completely dissolve parliament.

“I am announcing today at this historic moment the dissolution of the Assembly of People’s Representatives to preserve the state and its institutions and to preserve the Tunisian people,” said Kais Saied in a video released by the presidency.

A political crisis

On September 22, the Head of State formalized his full powers by “exceptional measures” which extend the suspension of Parliament. They also allow him to legislate by decree, to preside over the Council of Ministers and to amend laws.

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One hundred and twenty Tunisian deputies defied the suspension of Parliament on Wednesday by organizing a virtual session during which they voted to cancel the exceptional measures decided by Kais Saied since July 25.

At the call of the Office of the Assembly of People’s Representatives (ARP), a body which brings together the Presidency of Parliament and representatives of the parties sitting there, 120 deputies (out of a total of 217) participated in this online plenary , chaired by Tarek Fertiti, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, an independent.

The president of the Islamist movement, Rached Ghannouchi, also leader of the Ennahdha party, did not take part in this session.

Calls for early elections

One hundred and sixteen lawmakers voted in favor of a bill aimed at reversing extraordinary measures taken by Kais Said, which they say are blocking the democratic process and establishing one-man rule in the country that was the birthplace of the Arab Spring .

The deputies, including elected members of Ennahdha and independents, also called for the organization of early legislative and presidential elections to get out of the political and socio-economic crisis.

In his speech announcing the dissolution of parliament, the Tunisian president described the meeting of deputies as an “attempted coup, which failed”.

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He accused the participants of “plotting against state security” and asked the minister to take legal action against them.

“Our military and civilian security forces will face any use of violence according to the law,” he warned.

After suspending parliament and dismissing the government, Kais Saied dissolved the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM) in February, a measure described as a new authoritarian drift by his detractors and which has raised concerns for the independence of the judiciary.

Kais Saied unveiled a roadmap to pull the country out of the crisis with elections scheduled for July as well as a referendum on constitutional amendments. But an online popular consultation he launched to collect proposals was largely shunned by Tunisians.

Besides the political stalemate, Tunisia is getting out of a deep socio-economic crisis and is discussing with the International Monetary Fund to obtain a new loan.

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