Little progress in Tunisia despite 2 years under president's 'exceptional measures'

Little progress in Tunisia despite 2 years under president's 'exceptional measures'

Claiming to 'save' state, President Kais Saied dismissed parliament, prime minister 2 years ago, new constitution proves elusive

By Hatem Kattou

MONTREAL (AA) — Two years after suspending parliament and dismissing the government, Tunisia's President Kais Saied is still yet to lift "exceptional measures" he claimed would help "save" the country.

After a meeting with high-level army and security officials, Saied announced these measures on July 25, 2021, sparking criticism that he was concentrating power in his hands as he started governing the country through decrees.

Saied, who had been elected as an independent candidate in 2019 with 72% support, blocked lawmakers from entering parliament before dismissing then-Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi and dissolving the Supreme Judicial Council.

According to the Constitution's Article 80, which Saied claims justified these actions, such extraordinary measures must be lifted "as soon as their motives end."

They were supposed to end after fresh elections held under a new constitution. But two years on, this goal has proven elusive.

Saied held a referendum to draft a new constitution last year. This was followed by parliamentary elections in December, though turnout was a meagre 11.2%.

The new parliament, under the leadership of speaker Brahim Bouderbala, has yet to yield significant results despite months in session.

Further, Saied did not address the Tunisian nation on the anniversary of the measures this year and scheduled no events to mark it.

Numerous political actors have been arrested, accused of "plotting against state security," while the opposition criticized the moves as "groundless arrests."

In the meantime, Tunisia continues to face several major economic and social problems, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

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