Tunisia police blockade dissolved judicial watchdog

AFP , Monday 7 Feb 2022

Tunisian police on Monday blocked access to the country's top judicial watchdog in a move its chief slammed as "illegal", two days after President Kais Saied dissolved the body.

Tunisia
Members of the Tunisian security forces stand outside the closed entrance to the headquarters of Tunisia s Supreme Judicial Council (CSM) in the capital Tunis on February 6, 2022. AFP

AFP journalists saw security forces blocking all roads to the Supreme Judicial Council (CSM) headquarters in Tunis.

"We don't know who issued these orders but we know that they have no legal basis," CSM president Youssef Bouzakher told AFP.

Saied had dissolved the body on Sunday, months after sacking the government and seizing wide-reaching powers in Tunisia, often lauded as the only democracy to emerge from the 2011 Arab revolts.

His supporters say his power grab on July 25 was necessary after a decade of misgovernance by corrupt political parties following revolt which sparked the Arab Spring uprisings.

But critics say he has pushed the country down a dangerous route back towards autocracy.

Bouzakher said the closure of the CSM "proves that we have entered a phase where the executive is using force to seize control of all state institutions including the judiciary".

Warning of threats to "rights and liberties", he said the CSM would continue to do its job.

Saied had said Sunday that the CSM was corrupt and had delayed politically sensitive investigations into the assassinations of left-wing opposition figures Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi.

The CSM said he lacked the legal and constitutional authority to dissolve it.

The body, created in 2016, consists of 45 magistrates with the power to appoint judges.

Parliament appoints two thirds of its members who are then responsible for appointing the remainder.

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