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Tunisia: Venice Commission urges quick return to constitutional system 

Tunisians cast their vote at a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Tunis, Tunisia on 6 October 2019 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the parliamentary elections in Tunis, Tunisia on 6 October 2019 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The Venice Commission has urged in a report that legislative elections should be held as soon as possible in Tunisia to reactivate parliament prior to organising a referendum.

The report, released on Friday, added that if a revision to the electoral law must be implemented, it should be preceded by wide consultations involving political forces and civil society components to reach an accord on electoral rules.

The Venice Commission affirmed the need for the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) to supervise elections. The report stated that the new parliament could thereafter change and improve ISIE's law and amend the Constitution.

The report specified that if President Kais Saied refuses to postpone the referendum, the deadlines for preparing the revisions and changes to the Constitution should be extended as much as possible, in addition to delaying the referendum date.

The Venice Commission recommended forming a committee representing all political forces and components of Tunisian society. Moreover, the commission stipulated that it must be explicitly declared that, in case the voters reject the new bill, the 2014 Constitution shall be in force pending amendment by an elected parliament.

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The report stressed setting a minimum threshold for ratifying the referendum results and assigning ISIE with its old form to supervise the referendum.

The committee considered that it is unrealistic to organise a credible and legitimate referendum without clear and pre-established rules and in the absence of the text of the new Constitution that will be submitted to the referendum.

The Venice Commission considered that abolishing Decree No. 22 of 2022, which revises the composition of ISIE, is essential to the legitimacy and credibility of any elections.

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