Tunisia: Saied defends his controversial draft constitution

Tunisia: Saied defends controversial draft constitution


Tunisian President Kais Saied on Tuesday defended his controversial draft constitution in the face of accusations of authoritarian drift, after being disavowed by the lawyer he entrusted with drafting it. < /p>

Sadok Belaïd, head of the commission in charge of drafting the new Constitution, had submitted his project on June 20 to Mr. Saied but the latter published on Thursday a completely revised version, establishing a presidential system granting very broad powers to the Head of State without any real safeguards.

In a thunderous outing, Mr. Belaïd, a respected jurist, said in a letter published by the press on Sunday that Mr. Saied's version had nothing to do with the one he had given him, warning that the project which will be submitted to referendum on July 25 could “open the way to a dictatorial regime”.

In a message published Tuesday by the Presidency of the Republic, Mr. Saied defended himself, saying that the draft published constitution reflected “what the Tunisian people expressed since the revolution (of 2011) until July 25, 2021 when it was put back on the right track”.

On that date, Mr. Saied, after months of political deadlock, had suspended Parliament and dismissed the government to assume full powers, shaking the young democracy in the country from which the Arab Spring revolts had left in 2011. 

“The Constitution proposed to you reflects the spirit of the revolution and in no way infringes on rights and freedoms,” he added in his message.

He dismissed accusations that the proposed constitution paved the way for “a return to tyranny,” saying “nothing could be further from the truth.”

Finally, he called on Tunisians to approve the text during the July 25 referendum, which will coincide with the first anniversary of his coup.

“Say 'yes' to avoid the forfeiture of the state, so that the objectives of the revolution are realized and that we put an end to misery, terrorism, hunger, injustice and suffering,” he wrote.