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Tunisian President defends the creation of the temporary Supreme Judiciary Council

February 23, 2022 at 8:28 pm

Judges and lawyers gather to protest President of Tunisia, Kais Saied’s decision to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council in front of Palais de Justice in Tunis, Tunisia on February 10, 2022. [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian President, Kais Saied, said on Tuesday that the objective of the creation of the “temporary Supreme Judiciary Council” was “to prevent any attempt of infiltration and interference”.

On 12 February, the Presidency announced that Saied had signed a decree creating the “temporary Supreme Judiciary Council” to replace the Supreme Judiciary Council (an independent constitutional body); this prompted protests and rejection from many judicial bodies and political forces.

Saied met at the Carthage Palace, on Tuesday, with Justice Minister, Laila Jaffal, and they discussed issues related to the judiciary, according to a statement from the Presidency.

Saied reiterated his commitment to the independence of the judiciary and judges, and to rid all courthouses in Tunisia of the shortcomings that have been stuck on them for decades.

He continued: “The provisional Supreme Judiciary Council is composed entirely of judges. Its creation is intended to keep it away from all attempts of infiltration and interference in whatever way, and there is no room for any transgression by anyone.”

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He added: “Cleaning up the country requires the cleansing of the judicial system”, and that “judges are obliged to apply the law; also no judge can substitute the legislator in the promulgation of laws “.

The Provisional Supreme Judiciary Council refuses its dissolution “in the absence of a constitutional and legal mechanism to do so”, and insists that it is “the only legitimate constitutional institution representing the judiciary”.

The dissolution of the Judiciary Council represents a new episode in Tunisia’s serious political crisis since 25 July, 2021, when Saied began imposing “exceptional measures,” including freezing the powers of parliament, enacting laws by presidential decree, dismissing the government and appointing new ones.

The majority of political and civil forces in Tunisia reject the President’s actions, and consider them a “coup against the Constitution”, while other forces support them, seeing them as a “correction of the course of the 2011 revolution” that overthrew the rule of late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.