Tunisia: the Salvation Front reiterates its call for a boycott of the constitutional referendum

Tunisia: the Salvation Front reiterates its call for a boycott of the reference ;constitutional rendering


The National Salvation Front (FSN), a coalition of opposition political parties, renewed its call on Monday to boycott a referendum on the Constitution scheduled for July 25 in Tunisia, despite a new version prepared by President Kais Saied.

“We call on Tunisians to boycott an illegal, unconstitutional process that aims to legitimize a coup,” denounced to AFP Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, founder and president of the DSF, on the sidelines of a press conference in Tunis.

A left-wing political figure, Mr. Chebbi believes that the text proposed by Mr. Saied wants to “legitimize a presidentialist regime, that is to say the power of a single” man, via a new Constitution.

< p>In July 2021, the Tunisian president assumed full powers by dismissing the prime minister and suspending parliament, which he finally dissolved at the end of March, shaking the young Tunisian democracy, the cradle of the Arab Spring.

Jawhar Ben Mbarek, leader of the “Citizens Against the Coup” movement and member of the DSF, also called on “Tunisians to massively reject this referendum”, by boycotting it. 

“ We are committed to the 2014 Constitution, which we consider to be the only Constitution representative of the will of the Tunisian people,” he added.

Mr. Chebbi meanwhile judged that in the new text, “the guarantee of freedoms disappears. That to me is the epitome of a bad Constitution.” 

“National dialogue”

The European Union has said that it “takes good note of the fears expressed [by different actors, editor’s note] regarding the project [of a new Constitution] and its drafting process ”.

The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell underlined, in a press release, that “an inclusive national dialogue is the cornerstone of any credible constitutional process and long-term stability”.< /p>

He considered it essential to “bring together the widest possible spectrum of political and societal actors to confront the political, economic and social challenges of the country”.

Faced with numerous criticisms, President Kais Saied had published overnight from Friday to Saturday a slightly amended version of its initial draft of a new Constitution.

The new version introduces the need to respect the “democratic system” in two articles, one relating to the place of Islam and the other on possible restrictions on rights and freedoms.

For the rest, Mr. Saied did not modify the main lines of the controversial project, which marks a radical break with the parliamentary system in place since 2014. 

The jurist Sadok Belaid, who had been tasked by the president with drafting a bill that was ultimately discarded, criticized a text that could “open the way to a dictatorial regime”.

Mr. Saied’s draft calls for a president exercising executive power , supported by a head of government whom he appoints and can dismiss, without going through Parliament. 

The role of Parliament is greatly reduced and a new Chamber of Regions is created to counterbalance the weight of the Assembly of People's Representatives (ARP).

A veteran of the political scene, Ahmed Nejib Chebbi announced in April the creation of the National Salvation Front, hoping to launch a national dialogue on reforms aimed at “ save the country” from its deep crisis after the coup by President Kais Saied. < /p>