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Tunisia: MPs call for dissolution of Free Destourian Party’s constitutional bloc

Tunisian Parliament holds a session in Tunis, Tunisia on 13 November 2019 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian Parliament holds a session in Tunis, Tunisia on 13 November 2019 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

MPs in the Tunisian parliament demanded, on Sunday, the dissolution of the Free Destourian Party’s (17 seats / 217) sit-in, which has been going on for six days, at the parliament’s headquarters by force.

This came during a public session dedicated to discussing the draft budget for the year 2020, which started amid continued protest and sit-in by the Free Destourian Party’s deputies in the platform of the Parliament Speaker and vice speakers.

On Wednesday, the Free Destourian Party’s bloc decided to carry out an open sit-in inside the Parliament, following verbal battles, which took place between the head of the bloc, Abir Moussi, and a deputy from Ennahda bloc.

The first deputy speaker of parliament, Samira Al-Shawashy, opened the parliamentary session on a platform other than the original one, designated for chairing the meeting, accompanied by the second vice-president, Tariq Al-Ftiti.

In this context, the deputy of the Democratic Bloc (41 deputies) Ghazi Al-Shawashy, demanded the Parliament Speaker to “enforce the law, resort to the security forces to break the sit-in and confront all those, who obstructed the work of Parliament.”

Al-Shawashy said: “Everyone has the right to stage a sit-in and protest using all peaceful forms. However, this protest is disrupting the work of a sovereign institution, such as the Parliament, which is unacceptable.”

READ: Tunisia grapples with post-revolution economic slide

Seif Eddine Makhlouf, head of Al-Karama Coalition bloc (21 seats) said that “what the head of the Free Destourian Party’s, Abir Moussa, is doing in Parliament is a crime according to Article 136 of the penal code. It stipulates a three-years sentence and a fine for anyone who assaults and aggresses a person, or threatens to disrupt work.”

Makhlouf said, “Moussa, along with her deputies, deliberately disrupted the work of Parliament.”

He demanded the Parliament Speaker to “implement Article 69 of the constitution related to lifting the deputies’ parliamentary immunity, enforce the law and break the sit-in by force.”

In turn, head of the Ennahda Movement’s bloc (52 seats), Noureddine Bhiri, denounced what the Free Destourian Party’s deputies did, stressing that “there is a will to abuse the rights of the Tunisians, prolong the crisis and disrupt the 2020 budget deliberation.”

The Free Destourian Party’s deputies decided to stage this sit-in following the verbal skirmishes between the head of the Free Destourian Party’s bloc, Abir Moussa, and Ennahda deputy, Jamila Al-Ksiksi.

Moussi said, in media statements, at the parliament’s headquarters, that she would “not end the sit-in, unless the parliament Speaker apologies to her, and publish a written apology.”

During the same session, an intervention by Al-Ksiksi sparked chaos and controversy, after commenting on Moussi’s opinions, while discussing the draft budget.

“There are deputies in Parliament who act like bandits and delinquents, who are used to dictatorship and are ignorant about democracy. It is a catastrophe, which befallen the parliament,” Al-Ksiksi added while addressing the Free Destourian Party’s deputies.

It is noteworthy that MP Moussi had always expressed, in previous statements, her rejection of the 2011 revolution, which overthrew the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and openly professes her continued hostility to Ennahda movement.

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