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Tunisia: Soumoud Coalition calls for national dialogue to amend new Constitution

August 4, 2022 at 4:11 pm

Tunisians cast their votes on a new Constitution put forward by President Kais Saied in Ben Arous, Tunisia on 25 July 2022 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

The Soumoud Coalition called, on Wednesday, 3 August 2022, for launching a national dialogue to agree on the necessary amendments to the 30 June Constitution (the first version) and to form an electoral law in a participatory method that guarantees pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power. The Coalition pointed out that the results of the referendum recorded a relatively low rate of participation compared to the comparative experiments, revealing the violations it confirmed that its members witnessed during their participation in the referendum.

The Soumoud Coalition stated in a statement published on its Facebook page that it had already expressed, on several occasions, the “deviation of course of the referendum”, stressing that “there are several reasons, the most important of which are the short deadlines of drafting the Constitution, the formality of the national dialogue and the individual decision by the President to reformulate the text on two occasions during the campaign, as well as the weak dialogue by the citizens on the content of the proposed draft Constitution.” The Coalition stressed that this “prevents citizens from viewing the content of the text and its subjects presented to them” and that this “prompted the voter to vote in support of the President, or against the return of the corruption and terrorism system that ruled the country in the last decade.”

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The Soumoud Coalition also stated that it had participated in the referendum calling to vote “no”, revealing that its members discovered and documented several violations during the campaign including:

  • Putting a large number of banners in illegal locations or placing them above the banners of parties that call to vote “No”.
  • Taking advantage of the State facilities such as including youth clubs, culture centres and others, and using them to carry out the campaign of “yes”.
  • Depending on children and minors as means of advertising during the campaign.
  • Using the Tunisian flag and map in many banners during the campaign.
  • Adopting political defamation in many governorates during the campaign.
  • The lack of neutrality by several media outlets and their lack of respect for the electoral silence especially by the national television, since it is considered a public facility available to all.
  • Failure to respect the electoral silence by many supporters of the text of the proposed Constitution, including the President of the Republic, who we hoped to be a role model in respecting the law and consolidating the values of citizenship.

The Coalition affirmed that “although such violations, breaches and errors did not fundamentally affect the results of the referendum, they can drive the country, upon legislative or presidential elections, into an unprecedented political crisis that could disrupt the entire path”. It called on the “Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) to avoid the violations that marred the referendum campaign, work to enforce equal opportunities during the upcoming legislative and presidential elections and to be keen on adopting the well-known deadlines of the comparative experiments, especially after reviewing the voting system and re-dividing the electoral districts”.

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On the other hand, the coalition called on the President of the Republic to “retreat from the unilateral approach he has adopted so far, and return to a more participatory approach with all civil and political society forces that did not participate in the corruption and terrorism systems during the previous decade. This can be implemented by launching a national dialogue to agree on the necessary amendments to the text of the 30 June Constitution to restore the balance between the Executive and the rest of the powers, and to formulate an electoral law in a participatory manner that guarantees pluralism and the peaceful transition of power.”

The Coalition emphasised the need to “form a national, democratic and social front to restore balance to the political arena in preparation for the upcoming legislative elections.”