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The text of the new Tunisian constitution is in the hands of the President of the Republic

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, June 21st 2022 à 09:10 | Read 1247 times

Kaïs Saïed will have to submit to a referendum the new text of the Constitution (photo archives: Tunisian Presidency)
Kaïs Saïed will have to submit to a referendum the new text of the Constitution (photo archives: Tunisian Presidency)
TUNISIA. Kaïs Saïed was officially handed, on Monday 20 June 2022, the draft of the new constitution under discussion since 4 June 2022.

On Saturday 18 June 2022, the constitutionalist Amine Mahfoudh and Sadok Belaïd had specified this date, indicating that the text was ready. Sadok Belaïd, coordinator of the National Consultative Commission for a New Republic, in charge of the drafting of the Constitution said that "the difference between the new Constitution and the 2014 one is that the latter did not pay attention to economic issues."

The constitutional law professor said, "We want to put in place a regime that takes the country and its economy forward. We have had two experiences with presidential and parliamentary regimes that have failed". He thus emphasised that the first chapter of the Constitution will be devoted "to economic issues, with the aim of promoting the economy and improving the social conditions of Tunisians."

Sadok Belaïd has already revealed that, contrary to the 2014 Constitution, of which it constitutes Article 1, the reference to Islam will not be present in the 2022 Constitution.

A validation by referendum

The fundamental text, a fusion between the 1959 Constitution and that of 2014, should include some 150 articles and be about ten pages long. However, it is not yet written in stone. The President of the Republic will submit its approval to a referendum on 25 July 2022.

And it is not a foregone conclusion. After a national strike initiated by the UGTT (Tunisian General Labour Union which boycotted the discussions of the National Dialogue as did a large part of the opposition), on Thursday 16 June 2022, the following Saturday and Sunday hundreds of demonstrators marched, notably in the streets of Tunis. On the call of the Free Destourian Party (PDL) and the "National Salvation Front", a coalition of part of the opposition created on 31 May 2022 and including the Ennahdha party, they protested against the referendum.

Some Tunisian political parties - all of them not associated with the drafting of the new constitution - are asking their members not to go to the polls on 25 July 2022. Others, such as Afek Tounes, have already indicated that they will vote no. Abir Moussi, president of the PDL, has not yet decided on her party's position. According to her, this referendum aims to "falsify the will of the people and legitimise the political project of Kaïs Saïed.

Do not take Tunisia back to the stone age

Interviewed by the Tunisian radio station Shems FM on Monday 20 June 2022, Anouar Kaddour, secretary general of the UGTT, revealed that his union will present its own proposals on the amendment of the 2014 Constitution on Thursday 23 June 2021. He intends in particular to perpetuate trade union rights, threatened according to him by the new text. Its secretary general Noureddine Taboubi had also declared, a few days ago, "rejecting reforms that would take Tunisia back to the stone age with corporate citizens. In a workshop on Monday 20 June 2022," he said: "We will take a decision on whether to participate in the referendum. And this will be done through existing structures, in complete independence from political parties and the government."

More and more Tunisians are calling Kaïs Saïed's decision in July 2021 to assume full power a coup. After dismissing his Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi (replaced at the end of September 2021 by Najla Bouden Rhomdane), he suspended and then dissolved the Parliament (Assembly of People's Representatives - ARP) and dissolved the Superior Council of Magistracy. The Tunisian President now governs by decree-law.

On Saturday 18 June 2022, the magistrates - fifty-seven judges were dismissed by the President of the Republic on charges of corruption or indecency - voted to continue their strike. As it enters its third consecutive week and paralyses the courts, the dismissed judges are on hunger strike.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 17 December 2022. They will be held according to a different voting system, defined by the new Constitution.

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