Envoy defends President Saied, terms reforms in Tunisia good for democracy

Tunisian Ambassador to Kenya Hatem Landoulsi at a past function in Nairobi. He has defended the ongoing reforms in Tunisia saying they will improve the country’s governance. [Courtesy]

Tunisian Ambassador to Kenya Hatem Landoulsi has defended the ongoing reforms by President Kais Saied, saying they are aimed at improving governance and expanding the democratic space in the North African nation.

In a statement seen by The Standard on Sunday, Mr Landoulsi dismissed the allegations of human rights abuse in the country, saying the constitutional and electoral reforms started in mid last year and will culminate into a constitutional referendum slated for July 25, 2022.

The envoy said President Saied’s administration has allowed those against the reforms to organise street demonstrations and express their reservations.

“Freedom of expression, organisation and demonstration is guaranteed to all and no protest against the actions taken by the President of the Republic has been prevented,” he said.

He termed unfounded the allegations of a rise in the number of military trials of civilians, saying cases referred to military courts have reduced compared to past years.

Landoulsi said the ongoing trials in military courts are conducted as per the law and presided over by civilian judges.

“These trials, if any, are conducted in accordance with the law and in full respect of the right of defence and the requirements of the rule of law,” he said.

He cautioned Tunisians against falling for misleading campaigns aimed at disrupting the democratic space and reforms for personal interests.

Ambassador Landoulsi said President Saied will soon establish a committee of constitutional law experts and other relevant areas to collect proposals and draw out the guidelines from the ongoing national consultation on reforms.

He said the ongoing national consultation on constitutional and political reforms organised through electronic platforms involving all delegations will end on March 20 paving the way for the committee.

The committee according to the envoy will be tasked to draft constitutional reforms and electoral laws to be submitted in the referendum.

“The draft constitutional reforms and electoral law will be submitted to a referendum on July 25, 2022.”

In December, Tunisia will hold a legislative election to elect new Members of Parliament under the new Constitution.

Dissolved Supreme Judicial Council

President Saied on Sunday dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, the body that deals with judicial independence, a move that has been faulted by his opponents.

Saied's has been at loggerheads with the judges’ over the delay in issuing rulings in cases of corruption and terrorism.

He repeatedly said he would not allow judges to act as if they are a state, instead of being a function of the state.

On July 25, President Saied suspended Parliament and seized full executive authority in the country citing article 80 of the Tunisian Constitution.

Critics have faulted Saied’s actions terming them a coup, but he has defended the move, saying needs sweeping reforms to end economic stagnation.