Tunisia's President Kais Saied announced on Monday a time frame for the exceptional measures that he introduced in July. He said that the measures will finish by the end of next year. A referendum, he added, will be held on 25 July to consider "constitutional reforms" prepared by a special committee taking into account the results of the public consultation exercise to take place by post and online until 20 March.
The purpose, said the president, is to allow the people of Tunisia to express their views on the general situation in the country. Parliament, he added, will remain frozen until the election on 17 December 2022.
"If it is impossible for people, who are sovereign, to exercise sovereignty jurisdiction under a text in which sovereignty can no longer be exercised, a new text is needed," Saied told a ministerial council before his public speech. "Constitutions are drawn up and are not eternal. If we followed [the opposition] in their perceptions or in their analyses, the 1861 Constitution would still exist."
He explained his belief that Tunisia will pass from despair to hope and create a new history. "Especially since we have all resources to achieve our goals and live with dignity in light of respecting the will of the Tunisian people." He also referred to the criminal reconciliation bill which, he confirmed, will be drafted within the next couple of weeks following input from a specialist team.
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"Every penny must return to the Tunisian people; we will hold everyone accountable as per the law without oppressing anyone. The judiciary must have a date with history to cleanse the country. Those who have looted Tunisian money have no place in the Legislative Council [parliament] and will not represent the people in future."
Contrary to what his critics say, Saied insisted, freedoms are guaranteed in Tunisia. "Those who believe that they are not to be held accountable are wrong. We will work to respond to the people's demands for freedom, employment and justice."
The Tunisian Labour Union and other national organisations and parties have been calling on President Saied to set a time limit for his exceptional measures. Most parties also expressed their opposition to the total repeal of the current Constitution and its replacement by a new document.