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Tunisia party files grievance to Venice Commission over president's violation of election process

A group of people gather outside Municipal Theater to protest Tunisian President Kais Saied in Tunis, Tunisia on May 15, 2022. [Nacer Talel - Anadolu Agency]
A group of people gather outside Municipal Theater to protest Tunisian President Kais Saied in Tunis, Tunisia on May 15, 2022. [Nacer Talel - Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia's Free Constitutional Party announced yesterday that it had filed a grievance with the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) over what it called "violations affecting the current electoral process in the country committed by President Kais Saied", Anadolu reported.

The party added in a statement that it had sent a letter to the Venice Commission, which included a "presentation of the arsenal of irregularities and violations that distort the electoral process currently adopted in Tunisia."

The current electoral path, it added, "aims to abolish the concept of citizenship and transform the electoral process into a pledge of allegiance to Saied, the sole controller of the election result in advance."

The party accused Saied of "insisting on … changing the political and electoral system" to fit him, "outside the elected institutional frameworks and according to decrees that lack any legal basis, in flagrant violation of national and international legislation."

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It added that the grievance was also taken "due to the judicial institution's failure to take the necessary measures to prevent misleading the popular will, and in the context of the party's fulfilment of its duty to defend the rule of law and institutions."

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. In December, Saied announced that a referendum will be held on 25 July to consider 'constitutional reforms' and elections would follow in December 2022.

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".

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