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Tunisia president excludes political parties from planned national dialogue

May 22, 2022 at 11:26 am

A group of people gather outside to protest Tunisian President Kais Saied in Tunis [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian President Kais Saied issued Friday a presidential decree stipulating the creation of a National Consultative Commission for the New Republic, two advisory committees, and another for National Dialogue; all political parties were excluded from these bodies.

According to the decree issued in the Official Gazette, the National Consultative Commission will be chaired by Professor of Law Sadok Belaid.

Belaid will be entrusted with coordinating between two consultative committees, the first one is economic and social, and the second is legal, provided that the National Dialogue Committee submits the final proposals to President Saied to establish a new republic.

According to the decree, the Advisory Committee for Economic and Social Affairs will be chaired by the former head of Tunisia’s Bar Association Ibrahim Bouderbala. The committee includes four representatives from national labour organisations (The Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT, Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the National Union of Tunisian Women, and The Tunisian Union of Agriculture and Fisheries), in addition to a fifth representative from the Tunisian Human Rights League.

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The legal consultative committee consists of the deans of law faculties, provided that the oldest of them chairs it, according to the text of the presidential decree.

The mission of this committee is to “draft a constitution that responds to the aspirations of the people and guarantees the principles of justice and freedom under a truly democratic system.”

According to the presidential decree, the National Dialogue Committee includes members from the two consultative committees. The role of the committee is “to approach the proposals submitted by each committee to establish a new republic that responds to the legitimate popular aspirations of the Tunisian people in the revolution of 17 December 2010 confirmed in the National Consultation (referendum).”

The decree indicated that the final report of the National Consultative Commission for the New Republic will be submitted to the President of the Republic before 20 June.

Since July 2021 Tunisia has witnessed a severe political crisis when Saied imposed “exceptional measures” which included the suspension of parliament, the issuing legislation by presidential decrees, the dismissal of government and appointment of a new one.

The majority of political and civil forces in Tunisia have rejected these measures, and regard them as a “coup against the constitution.” Some forces support the measures and view them as a “correction of the course of the 2011 revolution” which toppled the former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.