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Tunisia moves towards nationwide reform dialogue

Tunisia moves towards nationwide reform dialogue
Image Credit: Getty

In order to develop a new constitution, the government would use a broad procedure as part of a reform package backed by President Kais Saied.

Tunisia’s technology ministry announced the start of a broad nationwide review process that would help in the creation of a new constitution.

The exercise, which was part of a reform package pushed by President Kais Saied to bolster his authority, asked citizens to send opinions via internet platforms from January 1 to March 20.

Elections, economics, finance, social issues, development, health, education, and culture are all topics are included for consideration.

The constitutional referendum will take place on July 25, one year after Saied dismissed the government, suspended parliament and assumed broad powers.

In the wake of years of gridlock in Tunisia’s contentious legislature, many Tunisians originally backed his attempt to consolidate power.

As time went on, the president took steps to rule by decree and made a promise to press ahead with political system changes.

The referendum, titled “Your opinion, our decision,” would initially target youth centers across the country’s 24 regions via an electronic platform, according to the technology ministry.

“The platform will be open to everyone from January 15,” it said.

Citizens will also be able to voice their opinions in local committees, while just 45 percent of Tunisian houses have internet access.

Critics say the decision highlights the president’s “populist” style, which helped him win a landslide 73 percent of the vote in 2019.

Saied’s one-man attempt to repair Tunisia’s shattered political systems has provoked charges that he is constructing a new autocrat in the cradle of the Arab Spring.

Military trials of opposition individuals on allegations such as “insulting the president” have been cited by civil and human rights organizations.

For the first time since President Kais Saied took governing powers in July, Tunisian security forces detained a top official from the largest party in the suspended parliament on Friday, according to the party.

Noureddine Bhairi was apprehended and taken away by plainclothes agents, according to the Ennahdha party.

The arrest, it said, set a dangerous precedent that could lead to tyranny.

The interior ministry responded, without citing Bhairi or mentioning any specific episode, that it had made decisions about the home arrest as allowed under state-of-emergency guidelines in order to maintain public safety.

According to official media, a Tunisian court condemned former president and Saied opponent Moncef Marzouki to four years in prison in his absence on December 23 for “assaulting” the state’s security.

Image Credit: Getty

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