Tunisia president receives draft constitution

AFP , Monday 20 Jun 2022

A legal expert charged with writing a new constitution presented a draft to Tunisian President Kais Saied Monday, less than a month before a referendum on the document.

Sadok Belaid, head of Tunisia s constitution committee, submitting a draft of the new constitution to President Kais Saied. AFP


The planned referendum is set for July 25, the one year anniversary of a power grab by Saied that saw him sack the government and suspend an elected parliament.

Sadeq Belaid, the legal expert appointed to head a committee drafting the new document, handed the draft to the president at his palace in the coastal Tunis district of Carthage.

"We hope (it) will satisfy the president," Belaid said in a video published by the presidency following their meeting.

In a statement, Saied said the draft "is not final, and some sections may be revised or given further thought".

Under his own timeline, Saied has until June 30 to approve or edit the draft constitution, which has not yet been disclosed in any form to the public.

The constitution for a "new republic" is at the centre of Saied's programme for rebuilding Tunisia's political system, more than a decade after the revolution that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

Saied this year consolidated his power grab by dissolving parliament, moving to rule by decree and seizing control of the judiciary.

His moves have been welcomed by some Tunisians tired of their dysfunctional post-revolution democracy, but others have warned he is returning the country to autocracy, little more than a decade after the ouster of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Saied wants to replace the current constitution, the product of a hard-won 2014 compromise between bitter political rivals that enshrined a mixed parliamentary-presidential system that often produced deadlock.

Tunisian Bar president Ibrahim Bouderbala, who headed a committee taking part in Saied's "national dialogue" over the constitution, told AFP that under the draft, "the president of the republic will control the executive".

The draft also "takes particular interest in economic questions", he said.

Belaid had told AFP in an interview earlier this month that he would remove all reference to Islam from the new document in order to challenge Islamist parties, a reference to Ennahdha, which has dominated Tunisian politics since 2011.

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