Tunisia’s Saied wins vote for sweeping power, amid low turnout

2022-07-26 07:42:14
Tunisia’s Saied wins vote for sweeping power, amid low turnout

Tunisians have overwhelmingly voted on a proposed new constitution in a referendum significantly enhancing President Kais Saied's powers, but a boycott by opposition parties has overshadowed the process.

According to an exit poll, only a quarter of eligible voters participated in the vote which saw 92.3% of participants in the referendum support the new constitution.

With no minimum participation rate, however, the new constitution is now set to become law.

Critics of Saied, who ousted the elected parliament a year ago and moved to rule by decree, of a coup. Those measures will be formalized in the new constitution, eliminating what the country achieved in the wake of its 2011 revolution.

Under the new constitution, Saied will have power over both the government and judiciary while weakening the parliament.

The new charter would place the president in command of the army, allow him to appoint a government without parliamentary approval and make him virtually impossible to remove from office.

He could also present draft laws to parliament, which would be obliged to give them priority.

The new charter "gives the president almost all powers and dismantles any check on his rule and any institution that might exert any kind of control over him," said Said Benarbia, regional director of the International Commission of Jurists.

Saied defends his moves as necessary to save Tunisia from years of political paralysis and economic stagnation under a 2014 constitution that split power between the parliament and president.

His ouster of parliament was initially supported by many Tunisians, but with little progress in addressing dire economic problems, that support appears to have waned.

After voting on Monday, Saied said Tunisia faced a "historic choice”.

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