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Tunisia’s President Guarantees Vote on Structure and Units Election Date

CAIRO — Tunisia’s president introduced on Monday that the nation would maintain a referendum to amend its Structure in July, adopted by parliamentary elections in December, providing for the primary time a concrete path in another country’s political limbo 5 months after he seized power in what opponents have known as a comfortable coup.

In a speech on Monday posted to his official Fb web page, President Kais Saied mentioned he would maintain a sequence of on-line consultations open to the general public early subsequent 12 months to assemble concepts for revising Tunisia’s Structure, which might then go to a fee to draft amendments. Tunisians would vote on the brand new Structure on July 25, 2022, the one-year anniversary of the day Mr. Saied suspended Parliament and took management.

Parliament will stay frozen till new elections on Dec. 17, 2022, he mentioned.

“I assume this duty earlier than the individuals and earlier than God,” Mr. Saied mentioned. “We search to liberate our individuals and our nation. We need to reside in a simply and peaceable nation.”

Monday’s announcement dispelled a few of the uncertainty Tunisians have endured ever since Mr. Saied shunted Parliament apart final summer time in what he mentioned was an emergency transfer to avoid wasting Tunisia from its cascading political, economic and Covid-19 crises.

However it’s much less clear whether or not the referendum and elections will find yourself strengthening Tunisia’s fledgling democracy, the one one to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring protests that began in Tunisia and swept by means of the area; or pushing the nation towards autocracy below Mr. Saied; or plunging it into but extra political turbulence.

Many Tunisians at first embraced Mr. Saied’s actions, and he was hailed as a savior. But because the president consolidated higher energy over the summer time and fall, suspending a lot of the present Structure and granting himself the best to rule by decree, extra Tunisians grew disenchanted with his leadership, or at the very least skeptical of it.

Common protests towards Mr. Saied’s one-man rule sprang up in Tunis, the capital, because the president stayed largely silent on a political street map, did not ship much-anticipated financial reforms, arrested political opponents and shut down essential media retailers.

Whereas lengthy delayed, Monday’s announcement got here as little shock. Mr. Saied has criticized the present Structure since earlier than it was adopted in 2014 after the autumn of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s former dictator.

A former constitutional law professor who was elected in a landslide in 2019, Mr. Saied has lengthy advocated a so-called hourglass-shaped political system that he says would empower the individuals who drove the 2011 revolution.

Below his proposed system, Tunisians would elect neighborhood-level native councils from which regional and nationwide representatives can be drawn by lottery, whereas a robust president would oversee international coverage, the army and the nation’s total path.

Mr. Saied didn’t say on Monday whether or not he would put such concepts ahead within the referendum. However he mentioned in an earlier decree that the fee to draft constitutional amendments can be appointed solely by him, giving him unchecked sway over the ultimate form of the draft.

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