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Tunisia president accuses PM of violating constitution

Tunisian President Kais Saied gives a talk on constitutional law during a state visit to Qatar at an event hosted by Lusail University, on 16 November 2020. [KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images]
Tunisian President Kais Saied in Qatar on 16 November 2020 [KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images]

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday accused Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi of "violating the provisions of the constitution" while conducting the last cabinet reshuffle.

In a letter the president reminded Mechichi of a number of principles related to the necessity for the political authority in Tunisia to reflect the true will of the people, stressing that "the essence of swearing the oath of office [for new ministers] should not adhere to formal or substantive measures, but rather to what is stated in the oath text and the subsequent effects of swearing it, not only in the this life, but also when the those who swore stand before Allah, the Most Fair, the Most Wise."

Earlier on Monday, the Tunisian PM dismissed five ministers, known to be close to the president, and assigned other officials to the vacant posts in the interim period.

According to a statement issued by the Tunisian government, Mechichi is awaiting the completion of the ministerial reshuffle procedures, after the ministers obtained the confidence of Parliament on 26 January. However, Saied rejected the newly appointed ministers.

Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi expressed his hopes that the obstruction of the government reshuffle would end.

He said: "We are working on establishing the Constitutional Court, as part of this disagreement is the existence of more than one interpretation of the constitution, while the only qualified body to interpret it is the Constitutional Court."

The court, whose formation has been delayed for more than five years due to the lack of compatibility between parliamentary blocs, is supposed to consist of 12 members (nine law experts and three non-specialists in law). Parliament is due to elect four of its members and the Supreme Judicial Council (an independent constitutional institution) elects four others, while the president appoints four members.

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