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Tunisia campaign calls for boycott of referendum on the constitution

ALGIERS, ALGERIA - JULY 05: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY – MANDATORY CREDIT - "ALGERIAN PRESIDENCY / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Tunisian President Kais Saied attends the celebration the anniversary of Algeria's independence in Algiers, Algeria on July 05, 2022. Algeria celebrates 60 years of independence from France. ( Algerian Presidency - Anadolu Agency )
Tunisian President Kais Saied attends the celebration the anniversary of Algeria's independence in Algiers, Algeria on July 05, 2022. Algeria celebrates 60 years of independence from France [Algerian Presidency - Anadolu Agency]

The Tunisian National Campaign to Abolish the Referendum on Tuesday said it considered that the draft constitution proposed by President Kais Saied to be submitted for a referendum on 25 July establishes "individual rule", calling for a boycott of this referendum.

The campaign is formed by five parties: the Republican Party, the Democratic Current, the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties, the Workers' Party and the Democratic Modernist Pole.

During a press conference, the Secretary-General of the Republican Party, Issam Chebbi, said: "We once again call on Tunisians to boycott the referendum and not to participate in any way, because this legitimises it."

"We are facing an unprecedented concentration of power and an unprecedented presidential system," Chebbi added.

READ: Algeria president receives head of Tunisia's labour union

He continued: "This constitution abolished most of the constitutional bodies and undermined the independence of the judicial authority and the civil feature of the state, which was one of the most important gains of the 2014 constitution."

"Through his project, Saied grabbed all powers without being subjected to accountability," Chebbi said.

He also considered that the draft constitution "came to consolidate the president's unilateral vision and his gelatinous vision and to establish for an individual rule."

For his part, the Secretary-General of the Workers' Party, Hamma Hammami, said that Saied "blew up the civil feature of the state… and turned against rights and freedoms and grabbed all powers."

"We are not in front of a president, but in front of an autocratic individual rule," Hammami added.

Earlier on Tuesday, Saied called on Tunisians to vote "yes" on the new draft constitution, which was published in the Official Gazette last Thursday.

He stressed that "there is no fear for rights and freedoms since the legal texts are issued by the majority under popular control, whether inside the parliament or the Council of Governorates and Regions."

According to the draft constitution, the Tunisian state system is republican, and the president of the country appoints the head of government and its members after a proposal submitted by the head of government

According to the same text, the president of the republic has the right to terminate the duties of the government or a member of it automatically or on a proposal submitted by the prime minister, and he is not accountable for the actions he has undertaken within the framework of his duties.

READ: Tunisia freezes assets of ex-PM and speaker of the house

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".

Kais Saied, Tunisia president dissolves parliament 'to preserve the state' - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Kais Saied, Tunisia president dissolves parliament 'to preserve the state' – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

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