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Tunisia: First session of the elected parliament begins

March 14, 2023 at 2:41 pm

The Assembly of the Representatives of the People (ARP) will hold its first plenary session, after the issuance of the order related to calling Parliament to convene at Bardo in Tunis, Tunisia on March 13, 2023 [Yassine Mahjoub/NurPhoto via Getty Images]

The opening session of the newly elected Tunisian parliament was held yesterday with a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran. This came in a live broadcast on state television.

The opening session was chaired by Member of Parliament Saleh Al-Mubaraki, who was assisted by the MPs, Ghassan Yamoun and Sirine Bou Sandal.

At the beginning of his speech at the session, Al-Mubaraki said: “Our country faces serious challenges, and we must work according to participatory and positive harmony with the executive authority within the framework of the unity of the state.”

Twenty months after it was closed following an executive order from President Kais Saied, the parliament held a collective oath .

Local and foreign reporters said they were not allowed to cover the opening session, while a high security presence could be seen around the parliament building area.

On 25 July, Saied cited Article 80 of the constitution to dismiss Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi, freeze the work of parliament for 30 days, lift the immunity of ministers, and appoint himself as head of the executive authority until the formation of a new government.

This comes after violent protests broke out in several Tunisian cities criticising the government’s handling of the economy and the coronavirus. Demonstrators had called for parliament to be dissolved.

The majority of the country’s political parties slammed the move as a “coup against the constitution” and the achievements of the 2011 revolution. For his part, Saied says his measures are “necessary and legal” to save the state from “total collapse”.

A number if political and civil groups refuse the formation of the new parliament, especially as the election saw a voter turnout of under ten per cent.

READ: Tunisia: Journalists protests as int’l media banned from covering parliamentary proceedings