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Tunisia's suspended Parliament holds virtual session

Tunisia's new President Kais Saied takes the oath of office on October 23, 2019 at the parliament in Tunis. - Saied, a conservative academic with no previous political experience who won the overwhelming support of younger voters in an October 13 runoff, was sworn in before members of the constituent assembly and other top state bodies. (Photo by Fethi Belaid / AFP) (Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images)
Tunisia's President Kais Saied in parliament in Tunis on 23 October 2019 [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Members of the suspended Tunisian Parliament called, on Thursday 27 January 2022, to keep the Parliament in permanent session to take the necessary decisions to confront the "coup", in reference by the members to the exceptional measures imposed by President Kais Saied.

This came during a virtual parliamentary session via video-conference to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the promulgation of the 2014 Constitution, after three years of a popular revolution that toppled in 2011 the former President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In a speech during the session, Rached Ghannouchi, Speaker of the Tunisian suspended Parliament, said that "the Constitution of the revolution is a tent that unites Tunisians; the Constitution was overturned and the authorities were gathered in the hands of one person," Ghannouchi called again for "a comprehensive national dialogue that does not exclude anyone."

"The Constitution of the revolution as a national gain was overturned on 25 July 2021, the unity of Tunisians was destroyed, institutions were disrupted, and powers were gathered in the hands of one person," Ghannouchi added.

Tunisia: Ghannouchi calls on MPs to celebrate eighth anniversary of Constitution virtually

Ghannouchi continued: "The country is witnessing unprecedented stifling financial crisis and international isolation, under a social situation ready to explode, and cleavages supported by the highest authority in the country."

He considered that "the institution of Parliament has been demonised in order to be eliminated."

He stressed to "respect of differences and to consolidate the essence of the democratic and parliamentary process," and "overcome the obstacles, which democracy is going through, cannot be conducted by a coup against it, or by deepening fascism and populism."

He also renewed his call for "an inclusive national dialogue that does not exclude anyone, the restoration of constitutional legitimacy by cancelling Presidential Order No. 117, and organising of general presidential and parliamentary elections."

Calls for a permanent session

For his part, the Head of the "Heart of Tunisia" parliamentary bloc, Oussama Khlifi, urged for the need for "parliament to remain in permanent session, and the session to remain open to take the necessary decisions to counter this absurd agitation, and the need to stand as an impenetrable dam against the coup."

The Head of the "Dignity Coalition" bloc, Seifeddine Makhlouf, also called for "parliament to remain in permanent session, as stipulated in Chapter 80 of the Constitution."

The independent Member of Parliament, Yadh Elloumi, also suggested during his speech, that "the session remain permanent."

"The Parliament's Rules Committee should present a road map for the Council's functioning, amending its internal and electoral system, and preparing for premature presidential and parliamentary elections." he continued.

Saied, who began a five-year presidential term in 2019, had previously announced holding early parliamentary elections on 17 December.

Independent Member of Parliament, Safi Said, said: "We were too late to hold such a session, and it was supposed to be held on the morning of last 26 July."

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Said added, "We represent legitimacy against the will of every usurper; we have to defend it, and I call on the rest of our colleagues to defend the principles of parliament and democracy and to attend the upcoming sessions in order to resist this fascist dictatorship."

Meanwhile, the independent Member of Parliament, Rached Khiari, called for "a plenary session devoted to the dismissal of Kais Saied."

Independent Member of Parliament, Sobhi Samara, also urged to "the continuation of this session as stipulated in the constitution," and added that "Saied allowed foreign intelligence agents to infiltrate Tunisian institutions."

The majority of political and civil forces in Tunisia reject Said's exceptional measures, and consider them as a "coup against the Constitution", while other forces support them and see them as a "correction of the course of the 2011 revolution", under political, economic and health crises (COVID-19 pandemic).

Tunisia is experiencing a severe political crisis, as its President, Kais Saied, imposed "exceptional" measures, including: suspending the Parliament, organising early parliamentary elections on next 17 December, issuing legislation with presidential decrees, dismissing the government and appointing a new one.

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