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Tunisia activists to sue president, PM for new Finance Law

Hundreds of Tunisians gather at Bardo Square near parliament to protest President Kais Saied’s power seizure in Tunis, Tunisia on November 14, 2021 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]
Hundreds of Tunisians gather at Bardo Square near parliament to protest President Kais Saied’s power seizure in Tunis, Tunisia on November 14, 2021 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

The Citizens Against the Coup initiative announced its intention to sue Tunisian President Kais Saied, Prime Minister Najla Bouden and Minister of Finance Siham Boughdiri, because of the 2022 Finance Law, considering it "unconstitutional".

"We will file a lawsuit against those responsible for this budget, that is, the head of state, the prime minister and the finance minister," member of the initiative Iyad Elloumi said on Wednesday.

He denounced the taxes stipulated by the law, which "turned the Tunisian state into a tax-collection state."

"We pay taxes for services, but where are these services and where is the accountability?"

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"The current finance law will lead the country to bankruptcy and will deepen the economic crisis further," he added.

The Dignity Coalition Bloc also questioned the validity of the law "because, contrary to what the Constitution stipulates, it was rendered via a presidential decree and exceeded the legal deadlines."

The Tunisian constitution stipulates that "the draft finance law shall be submitted to Parliament no later than 15 October and shall be approved by 10 December of each year."

On Tuesday, the government announced its budget for 2022, with an expected primary deficit of $3 billion, equivalent to 6.7 per cent of the country's gross domestic product.

According to the announced budget figures, the government's expected revenues next year amount to 38.618 billion dinars ($13.55 billion), compared to expenditures of 47.166 billion dinars ($16.54 billion).

The severity of economic and financial pressures on Tunisia has escalated as part of the repercussions of a severe political crisis that the country has been experiencing, since last 25 July, when Saied began taking exceptional measures.

Saied has held nearly total power since 25 July when he sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority citing a national emergency.

He appointed a prime minister on 29 September and a government has since been formed.

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The majority of the country's political parties slammed the move as a "coup against the constitution" and the achievements of the 2011 revolution. Critics say Saied's decisions have strengthened the powers of the presidency at the expense of parliament and the government, and that he aims to transform the country's government into a presidential system.

On more than one occasion, Saied, who began a five-year presidential term in 2019, said that his exceptional decisions are not a coup, but rather measures within the framework of the constitution to protect the state from "imminent danger".

The Citizens Against the Coup initiative is a popular initiative that proposed a road map to end the political crisis in Tunisia, including holding early presidential and legislative elections in the second half of 2022.

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