Academics in Tunisia have today called for an end to the exceptional measures announced by President Kais Saied, which they said are "clearly" showing "early signs" of "a deviation of authorities towards authoritarianism".
In a statement, scores of academics denounced what they called "a grave breach of the Constitution and a coup against it", following Saied's decision on 25 July to dismiss Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi and consolidate all legislative, executive and judicial powers in the hands of the president.
"We declare our categorical rejection of this coup against the Constitution and call for an end to the arbitrary exceptional measures announced by the President, a return to constitutional legitimacy, and the resumption of parliamentary work."
"We express our deep concern about the unknown fate that awaits the country in the absence of a government," they continued in the statement.
The full statement can be found below:
Call for a return to constitutional legitimacy
Following the announcement by the President of the Republic Kais Saied on July 25 2021 of a number of exceptional measures by resorting to Article 80 of the Constitution, including:
– The dismissal of the Prime Minister and freezing the activities of the parliament and its competencies for a period of 30 days, which can be extended by a presidential order in the absence of the Constitutional Court.
– Lifting parliamentary immunity from all members of parliament.
– Consolidation of all legislative, executive and judicial powers in the hands of the President of the Republic. We, the undersigned intellectuals, academics, civic and political activists, address this statement:
- We consider that the poor performance of the public authorities during and before the pandemic and the exacerbation of the economic, social and health crises as being the responsibility of all parties, that is, the government, the presidency and the parliament with its majority and opposition, and civil society.
- We stress that Article 80 of the Constitution does not authorise the President of the Republic to take the above-mentioned procedures, as noted by many professors and experts of constitutional law who are known for their competence.
- We point out that these procedures are a grave breach of the Constitution and a coup against it.
- We note that the consolidation of the three executive, legislative and judicial powers by the President of the Republic is a clear violation of the principle of separation of powers enshrined by the Tunisian Constitution and all democratic constitutions.
- We warn that this appropriation of all state authorities will lead to the establishment of an authoritarian regime and the elimination of two important gains from the revolution of 2011, namely freedom and democracy, and that the early signs of such a deviation of authorities towards authoritarianism have begun to appear clearly.
- We express our deep concern over the successive infringements on individual liberties, human rights and freedom of the media, following the serious violations against media channels, foreign correspondents, bloggers and politicians.
- We stress that the absence of a government capable of preparing a draft state budget law for the year 2022 in such precarious conditions, without finding an urgent solution to the public finance crisis, will inevitably lead to the further deterioration of the economic and social situation.
- We express our deep concern about the unknown fate that awaits the country in the absence of a government.
- We declare our categorical rejection of this coup against the Constitution and call for an end to the arbitrary exceptional measures announced by the President, a return to constitutional legitimacy, and the resumption of parliamentary work.
- We call all parties, without exception, from political parties to civil society organisations and elites, to a constructive dialogue in order to address the complex crises that Tunisia is experiencing and to agree on an action plan that will enable the country to resume its democratic process on solid foundations and enable it to achieve political and economic reforms that guarantee it an exit from this crisis.
Signatories to the above petition:
– Mounir Kchaou: academic and intellectual
– Abd al-Salam Kikli: academic and union activist
– Habib Bouajila: researcher and writer- Fatma Kammoun: civil society activist
– Taher ben Yahya: academic – Khaled Shawkat: civil society activist and politician
– Mosaddeq Al-Jalidi: academic and an intellectual
– Shaker Houki: academic- Mahmoud Dhaouadi: academic and writer
– Noureddine Alaoui: academic
– Mohamed Said: academic
– Mourad Rouissi: academic- Youssef Belayouni: academic
– Kaisar Jlidi: academic
– Ali Zidi: academic
– Murad Yaqoubi: academic
– Abdel Monem Labidi: academic
– Mahdi Mabrouk: academic
– Ali Elneny: academic
– Chokri Khemira: academic
– Chihab Boughedir: academic, member of editorial team of Al-Zoraa newspaper
– Muhammad DhaifAllah: academic, member of editorial team of Al-Zoraa newspaper
– Rida ben Mabrouk Sassi: researcher and civil activist
– Hoda Bahrouni: researcher
– Sania Zakraoui: member of editorial team of Al-Zoraa newspaper
– Saeed Jendoubi: member if editorial team of Al-Zoraa newspaper
– Ola ben Najma: lawyer
– Akram Zribi: lawyer
– Shaima Issa: researcher and civil society activist
– Laila Bejaoui: civil society
– Nawal Laouini: activist and blogger
– Laila Haj Omar: novelist
– Ammar Al-Jamai: independent novelist and human rights activist
– Sabrine Bouzeryata: political activist and blogger
– Al-Hussein ben Omar: journalist
– Saleh Attia: journalist
– Faisal Habib: journalist
– Yassin Abdeli: actor
– Omar Sifaoui: researcher and jurist
– Lamia Khemiri: lawyer and political activist
– Nasser Khelaifi: lawyer
– Malik Bin Omar: lawyer
– Ahmed Giloufi: political activist
– Lamine Bouazizi: researcher, political activist and blogger
– Salah Elani: engineer
– Zuhair Ismail: researcher and civil activist
– Ammar Giloufi: researcher and political activist
– Omar chetoui: lawyer, constituent assembly deputy, and former dean of the notaries
– Ibrahim Ben Said: former MP
– Mabrouk Huraizi: former MP
– Mehrez Drisi: researcher and civil activist
– Imed Azali: publisher
– Hatem Jelassi: head of the Reforce Education Network
– Fathi Said: engineer- Faisal Hanachi: political activist
– Taher Rcshidi: employee
– Faisal Ech: civil activist and blogger
– Abdelkader Latifi: writer and novelist
– Salem Mousahli: researcher and artist