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Tunisian Constitution law society: A Statement for Public Opinion

Tunisian flag in Tunis, Tunisia on December 08, 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian flag in Tunis, Tunisia on December 08, 2020 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Tunis, 26 July 2021

For months, Tunisia has been living in an unprecedented and multidimensional crisis that reached its peak on 25 July, on the 64th anniversary of the proclaiming the republic. The entire Tunisian country witnessed popular movements that roamed all over the republic's soil demanding the dissolution of the Parliament and the departure of the government.

Consequently, the President of the Republic chaired an emergency meeting of the military and security leaders in the state following which he declared a state of emergency as stated in chapter 80 of the 27 January 2014 constitution. Based on that, he adopted a series of measures represented basically in the following:

  • Freezing all the powers of the Parliament
  • Lifting immunity from all deputies
  • Presiding over the general prosecution
  • Relieving the prime minister from his position and appointing a new prime minister who will choose his own cabinet but will remain responsible before the president of the republic.

The Tunisian Society of Constitutional Law, while expressing its deep concern over the Tunisian Republic's entry into a state of emergency that in itself represent a critical situation that may open the door before several deviations, yet it:

  • confirms that the president of the republic has absolute power to assess the circumstances that demand resorting to a state of emergency and determining the measures necessitated by the latter within the limits of what is needed to guarantee the resumption of the normal running of the state as soon as possible.
  • reminds that the president is obligated to consult the prime minister and the parliament speaker and to inform the head of the constitutional court.
  • reminds that informing the constitutional court, which is considered a formal measure at this stage of enacting chapter 80, has not taken place due to the deliberate obstruction of its establishment. Hence, such informing becomes impossible.
  • considers that freezing all the powers of the parliament is not included within the extraordinary measures that may be taken according to chapter 80 because the latter states that the parliament remains in a state of permanent meeting throughout that period. This would contradict the order to freeze its powers.

While the President of the Republic has acknowledged that the adopted measures do not constitute the suspension of the constitution nor a violation of constitutional legitimacy but came out of the necessity of establishing societal peace, yet the Tunisian Society of Constitutional Law:

  • expresses its concern toward the concentration of all powers in the hands of the President of the Republic.
  • the Tunisian Society of Constitutional Law calls on the President of the Republic to explain the measure and procedures he intends to take and the manner in which he will manage the state of emergency in the coming days, especially since the continuation of the states for more than thirty days requires a decision by the Constitutional Court. But since the latter is absent the continuation of this situation will enable the President of the Republic to continue to have a monopoly over all powers without supervision, thus driving the country into the unknown.
  • the Tunisian Society of Constitutional Law calls on the President of the Republic, who chose the anniversary of the proclamation of the republic to declare a state of emergency, to adhere to the fundamentals of the Republican system and what he referred to with regard to respecting the constitution and respecting constitutional rights and liberties and not to deviate by virtue of what chapter 80 entitles him of extraordinary powers to change the constitution and the political system.

On behalf of the committee administering the Tunisian Society of Constitutional Law

Society Chairperson – Salwa Al-Hamrouni

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