Tunisia summons US envoy for criticizing its constitutional referendum
Tunisia has summoned US charge d'affaires Natasha Franceschi in protest at Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's rare criticism of the North African country's draft constitutional referendum.
After the referendum vote that was plagued with a low turnout and opposition groups reporting difficulties in observing the process, Blinken said the US "shared concerns" over the vote and over the new constitution.
Tunisia's Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi told US acting chargé d'affaires Natasha Franceschi that Blinken's statement represented an unacceptable "interference in the national internal affairs", the ministry said in a statement.
A few hours earlier, Jerandi said had met with President Saied, who expressed his "rejection of any form of interference in the internal affairs of the country".
The statement from Washington's top diplomat was one of the strongest yet in opposition to Saied's actions since the Tunisian leader's July 2021 power grab.
Blinken, however, was quick to add that "the US-Tunisia partnership is strongest when there is a shared commitment to democracy and human rights".
Tunisia's new constitution turns the country’s semi-presidential system into a presidential system, giving the president sweeping powers while limiting the role of the parliament.002