Kais Saied promises to launch ‘national dialogue’ in Tunisia

Tunisian President, Kais Saied

Tunisian President, Kais Saied, said on Thursday that a “national dialogue” will be launched in which young people will participate and will address topics including the country’s “political and electoral systems”.

This came in a cabinet meeting supervised by Saied at the Carthage Palace, according to a statement by the Tunisian presidency.

At the opening of the council’s work, Saied stressed “the presence of a political will to impart the required efficiency to the government’s work to devote itself to addressing the economic, financial and social conditions in Tunisia.”

According to the statement, the President of the Republic indicated that “a sincere and honest national dialogue will be launched, in which young people will participate in the entire Tunisian territory and will be completely different from previous experiences.”

He added that “the dialogue will address several topics, including the political and electoral systems in Tunisia.”

Saied explained that the dialogue “will take place within an agreed time frame, and within new mechanisms, formulas and perceptions that lead to developing synthesis proposals within the framework of a national conference.”

The Tunisian president stressed that the dialogue “will not include anyone who stole the people’s money or worked for other countries’ interests.”

Tunisia has been experiencing a severe political crisis, as Saied began to take “exceptional” decisions, including freezing the competencies of Parliament, lifting the immunity of its deputies, abolishing the constitutionality monitoring body, issuing legislation by presidential decrees, heading the Public Prosecution and dismissing the Prime Minister, provided that he assumes the executive authority assisted by a government whose president he has appointed.

It is noteworthy that a national dialogue was held in 2013 in Tunisia, following an acute political crisis and the assassination of leftist Popular Front leaders, which ended the rule of the “troika” (a coalition between the Islamic Ennahda movement and two secular parties) and the establishment of a “technocrat” government headed by Mehdi Jomaa in 2014.

According to the statement, Saied recalled that “as much as Tunisia is keen to continue strengthening relations of cooperation with brotherly and friendly countries, as much as it adheres to its national sovereignty and respect for the choices of the Tunisian people.”

He, once more, “expressed rejection of all attempts to interfere in or offend Tunisia’s internal affairs.”

The statement came hours after the European Parliament voted in favour of a resolution calling for “the full return to democracy in Tunisia, and the resumption of Parliament’s work as soon as possible.”

On 9 October, the Tunisian Diplomatic Corps Syndicate (which includes Foreign Ministry employees) accused former Tunisian President, Moncef Marzouki (2012-2014) of inciting foreign state authorities to take punitive measures against his country, which Marzouki denied and considered a “lie”.

The majority of political forces in Tunisia reject Saied’s exceptional decisions and consider them a “coup against the constitution”, while other forces support them as a “correction of the course of the 2011 revolution”, in light of the political, economic and health crises (the Coronavirus pandemic), the same revolution that overthrew the regime of the late President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (1987-2011).

Critics say Saied’s decisions strengthened the powers of the presidency at the expense of parliament and the government, and that he aimed to transform the country’s government into a presidential system.

On more than one occasion, Saied, who began a 5-year presidential term in 2019, said that his exceptional decisions are not a coup, but rather measures taken within the framework of the constitution to protect the state from an “imminent danger”, according to his assessment.

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