Tunisia’s President has Stated That the Country’s Constitution Will be Amended

The 2014 charter, according to Kais Saied, is “not everlasting” and can be modified via current constitutional mechanisms.

President Kais Saied of Tunisia has suggested that he intends to amend the country’s constitution, seven weeks after seizing power in what his opponents have dubbed a coup.

After swearing there was “no turning back” to the scenario in the North African country before his intervention on July 25, Saied’s words on Saturday were his clearest indication yet about what he wants to do next.

Saied claimed he admired the 2014 democratic constitution but that it was “not forever” and might be altered while speaking live on television in a central Tunis avenue.

“Amendments must be made within the framework of the constitution,” he told the Sky News Arabia channel and Tunisian state television.

On Thursday, one of Saied’s aides told Reuters that the president planned to suspend the constitution and hold a referendum on a modified version, provoking objections from political parties and the influential UGTT labor union.

Since his statement on July 25 that he was firing the prime minister and suspending parliament, there has been rising concern, both internally and among Western countries that have backed Tunisia’s public finances, about Saied’s intentions.

The former constitutional law professor justified his actions by claiming constitutional emergency provisions, which his adversaries and many legal scholars claimed did not allow his participation. He has yet to appoint a new administration or make any clear indication of his long-term intentions, despite the fact that the measures were extended indefinitely after a month. Tunisia is grappling with a rolling economic catastrophe.

On Saturday, Saied committed to create a new government “as soon as feasible” after selecting “the most honest people.”

However, he refused to specify a particular time frame.

After years of political stasis, Saied’s intervention earned enormous support, but it has thrown Tunisia into turmoil a decade after it overthrew authoritarianism and embraced democracy in the Arab Spring-inspired revolution.

Since its adoption in 2014, political leaders have expressed dissatisfaction with the constitution, advocating for it to be modified to either a more directly presidential or a more directly parliamentary system.

According to Article 144 of the constitution, an alteration to the Constitution can only be put to a referendum if it has already been approved by two-thirds of the parliament, which Saied labeled a “threat to the state” last month.

In 2019, a week after Saied was elected, the current parliament was elected. He doesn’t have the authority to dissolve it and hold new elections, but some of the chamber’s profoundly divided parties have signaled that they might be able to do so on their own.

The moderate Islamist Ennahdha, which has a quarter of the seats in parliament, has accused Saied of staging a coup and stated on Saturday that deviating from the constitution would be a step back from democracy.

The UGTT, Tunisia’s major labor union, also stated on Saturday that it opposes the suspension of the constitution and instead calls for new legislative elections.

Meanwhile, last week, ambassadors from the Group of Seven leading economies encouraged Tunisia’s president to form a cabinet as soon as possible and return to “a constitutional order in which an elected parliament plays a significant role.”


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