Tunisia: Another step towards concentration of powers

Democracy and freedoms, Newsletter, Tunisia

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After the freezing of the parliament and the dismissal of the head of government on 25 July 2021, President Kaïs Saïed’s decision on 6 February to dissolve the Superior Council of the Judiciary (Conseil supérieur de la magistrature – CSM) and replace it with a provisional mechanism marks a turning point in Tunisia’s history. 

By appointing a provisional council, giving himself the right to dismiss judges and prohibiting them from striking, Kaïs Saïed is further strengthening powers already firmly established by the presidential decree no 2021-117 of 22 September 2021. 

This recent decision has provoked strong reactions from political parties and Tunisian civil society, but also from countries that are friends and allies of Tunisia, who see it as a new step towards a concentration of powers in the hands of the Presidency. The French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, described the decision as “disturbing” while representatives of the G7 countries expressed “concerns”. 

These reactions and concerns were swept aside by Kaïs Saïed who insisted on recalling that “Tunisia is a sovereign country that works for the establishment of a society of law”. President Saïed said that “those who express their concerns know very well the excesses that have taken place, as well as the assassinations and abuses committed with public money, and they do not seem to be concerned about them”. 

For his part, the vice-president of the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights, Bassem Trifi, condemned this move and considered that it would have been more appropriate to change the composition of the CSM than to replace it with a new body under the supervision of the President of the Republic. The Association of Tunisian Magistrates, for its part, called for a demonstration in front of the Court of Cassation in response to the targeting and subjugation of justice. A situation to be followed very closely… 

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