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Tunisia presidential adviser: Exceptional measures are justifiable

August 11, 2021 at 3:16 pm

Tunisian forces take security measures around parliament building as protests take place in Tunis, Tunisia on 26 July 2021 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Walid Al-Hajjam, adviser to Tunisian President Kais Saied, said yesterday that “the exceptional measures [taken by Saied] are justifiable.”

Al-Hajjam stressed that “there is no way to confiscate the freedoms and gains that Tunisians have achieved over the past ten years,” confirming that there is “no room for returning to dictatorship.”

Speaking to Radio IFM, the official said the imposition of travel bans of public and political figures “is a temporary precaution that was taken against some people, many of whom were referred to in the report of the anti-corruption authority in light of their involvement in corruption files, or open cases in the courts, or on suspicion of looting public funds.”

“We in the Presidency of the Republic do not practice dictatorship or autocratic rule and we do not confiscate people’s freedoms. We are convinced that there is no room anymore for such practices… and I want to stress that there is no intention to usurp rights and freedoms and the individual and collective gains that have been achieved in Tunisia during the last decade … nor can anyone dare to retreat from these gains.”

Al-Hajjam continued: “It is true that there are people who wanted to travel and were prevented from doing so, and the travel ban here is a precautionary measure that was taken against some people against whom preventive decisions were taken, due to their involvement in corruption files, cases under trial in courts, or a suspicion of seizing Tunisians’ money.”

READ: Tunisia president: ‘We will never back down, we are determined to write a new history for Tunisia’

The administrations of the Ministries of Interior and Justice are responsible for the list of those banned from travel, Al-Hajjam explained, and not the president. Once cases against these officials come to an end, travel bans will be lifted accordingly,  he added.

On 25 July, Tunisian President Kais Saied cited Article 80 of the constitution to dismiss Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi, freeze the work of parliament for 30 days, lift the immunity of ministers, and appoint himself as head of the executive authority until the formation of a new government.

This comes after violent protests broke out in several Tunisian cities criticising the government’s handling of the economy and the coronavirus. Demonstrators had called for parliament to be dissolved.

The majority of the country’s political parties slammed the move as a “coup against the constitution” and the achievements of the 2011 revolution.