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Maybe Tunisians Never Wanted Democracy

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27.07.2021

On July 25, Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed the country’s prime minister and suspended parliament for 30 days. Security forces were then deployed around the parliament building in Tunis, blocking legislators from passing through. The next day, the president forced out the acting justice minister, sacked the defense minister, and ordered the offices of Al Jazeera closed. He also banned gatherings of three people or more.

Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker of the now shuttered parliament and longtime leader of the Islamist Ennahdha party, called Saied’s action a “coup.” The president disagreed, citing Article 80 of the Tunisian Constitution, which gives the head of state the power to do precisely what he did in the event of “imminent danger threatening the integrity of the country and the country’s security and independence.” There is a significant difference of opinion, however, as to whether Tunisia’s current dire economic problems, parliamentary drift, and a debilitating wave of COVID-19 actually amount to such imminent danger. This would seem to be a problem that the Constitutional Court could adjudicate—but alas, there is no court because either no one can agree on which judges to appoint or the president has blocked their appointment.

On July 25, Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed the country’s prime minister and suspended parliament for 30 days. Security forces were then deployed around the parliament building in Tunis, blocking legislators from passing through. The next day, the president forced out the acting justice minister, sacked the defense minister, and ordered the offices of Al Jazeera closed. He also banned gatherings of three people or more.

Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker of the now shuttered parliament and longtime leader of the Islamist Ennahdha party, called Saied’s action a “coup.” The president disagreed, citing Article 80 of the Tunisian Constitution, which gives the head of state the........

© Foreign Policy


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