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Tunisia: Suspension of government meant to resolve political quarrels- Envoy

By Patrick Vidija | August 9th 2021

Supporters of Tunisia's biggest political party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, take cover from stones thrown at them by supporters of President Kais Saied outside the parliament building in Tunis on July 26, 2021.[Reuters]

Tunisia Ambassador to Kenya Hatem Landoulsi now says the reason President Kais Saied suspended the government was to get the country out of a crisis.

Landoulsi said the move was occasioned by several months of crisis due to political quarrels that had interfered with the normal functioning of the constitutional institutions, especially the Parliament, which has been rejected by the majority of Tunisians.

The envoy in a statement said this necessitated the freezing of government's work in accordance with exceptional measures in order to protect it.

He said exceptional measures are temporary measures that fall within the framework of a temporary organization of power in accordance with the Constitution until the end of the danger faced by the Tunisian State and its institutions, to ensure the stability of the country and the proper functioning and protection of state institutions and to ensure their permanence and protection of the entire democratic process.

Last month President Saied dismissed the country’s prime minister and froze parliament for 30 days.

His opponents condemned the move terming it as an attempted coup.

Saied announced that he was firing Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and that he and a new prime minister would take up executive authority.

Under Tunisia’s 2014 constitution, executive power is shared by the president, prime minister and the parliament.

Saied also suspended lawmakers’ parliamentary immunity.

“We have taken these decisions … until social peace returns to Tunisia and until we save the state,” he said in a televised speech after an emergency meeting with security leaders.

For several months there had been calls for a radical change at the political class level and for the dissolution of the parliament in several cities of the country.

According to the envoy, President Saied responded to unchallenged popular appeal basing himself on the provisions of the Constitution (Article 80.

“Demonstrations in support of these measures were widely visible across the country. Many criticized leaders from all the political parties have explicitly recognised their failure to halt the deterioration of the situation in the country, in different areas, which has resulted in a daily life that has become unbearable for a growing majority of Tunisians,” he said.

Ambassador Landoulsi said the mismanagement of the health situation, unfortunately, made Tunisia reach unprecedented death records in relation to its population and international reputation in terms of the success of public health policy.

“And the situation would have been even worse, without the support of many brotherly and friendly countries,” he said.

The envoy said throughout his professional life, President Kais Saied has taught constitutional law and related principles.

“Tunisia’s firm commitment and that of the President of the Republic to guaranteeing rights and freedoms, respecting the rule of law and the democratic path in our country, which he affirmed in all his interventions,” he said.

He said the move, therefore, demonstrates the importance of imposing the law on everyone and ensuring the independence and efficiency of the judiciary at this delicate stage in the history of Tunisia.

“Without getting involved in allegations and lies that promote an untrue picture of the current situation in Tunisia. The President of the Republic is determined to respect freedom of media and expression and human rights and has no intention of reverting to these gains,” he said.

 Landoulsi said the measures taken by the President are temporary and protective for the country’s democratic process, freedoms, and the rule of law, with no intention of suppressing the gains made since 2011 or instrumentalising the state for partisan purposes.

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