Tunisia: president dissolves Supreme Judicial Council

Tunis

Tunisian President Kais Saied officially dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council¬†on Feb. 6, sending police to seal the chamber where the body meets. The¬†Council’s head,¬†Youssef Bouzakher, called the dissolution “illegal,” and said it is aimed at bringing Tunisia’s jurists under control of the executive.¬†Established in 2016, the Council¬†is a constitutional body entrusted with ensuring the independence of the judiciary, responsible for appointing judges and taking disciplinary action.¬†Bouzakher said the Council intends to continue working in defiance of the president’s announcement.

Saied’s move comes amid growing unrest, with protesters taking to the streets in defiance of a ban on all demonstrations as an ostensible COVID-19 containment measure. January saw¬†mass protests in Tunis commemorating the 2011 pro-democracy uprising. At least one was killed in last month’s protests, according to campaign group¬†Citizens Against the Coup.¬†Protests again erupted on the same day Saied dissolved the Judicial Council, marking the 2013 assassination of progressive opposition leader¬†Chokri Belaid.

On July 25, 2021, Saied seized near-total powers,¬†dismissing his cabinet, dissolving the parliament, revoking the immunity granted to legislators, and assuming the role of the public prosecutor. Critics have termed the power-grab a “self-coup”¬†that violates the Tunisian constitution. (Jurist,¬†Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera,¬†DW, MENAFN, Tunis Afrique Presse, Reuters,¬†Amnesty International)

See our last report on the political crisis in Tunisia.

Photo: XLR Media via Twitter

  1. Tunisia: parliament dissolved, lawmakers under investigation

    Political crisis in Tunisia has intensified following President Kais Saied’s decision to dissolve the parliament after freezing it in a power grab last July. The decree came on March 30, hours after lawmakers held a plenary session online and voted to end his exceptional measures, which include¬†suspension of the chamber and the sacking of the prime minister, along with the seizure of legislative and judicial powers.¬†

    Tunisia’s justice minister has since launched a criminal investigation into members of the now-dissolved parliament who took part in the online session. As many as 121 out of 216 of the participants were summoned for questioning by a special judicial anti-terrorism unit on April 1. (Al Jazeera)

  2. Tunisia: new constitution expands executive power

    Tunisian citizens voted July 25 to adopt a new constitution drafted by President Kais Saied which greatly¬†expands the president’s powers. In an election with only 25%¬†turnout due to a boycott, the constitution was adopted by over 90%¬†of voters. In addition to eroding the independence of¬†the judiciary, the new constitution eliminates human rights and gender equality safeguards that were included in the 2014 constitution. (Jurist)¬†

  3. Tunisia: president urged to resign after ‘fiasco’ election

    Tunisia’s main opposition coalition has said President Kais Saied must resign after fewer than 9% of eligible voters took part in parliamentary elections. The National Salvation Front head, Nejib Chebbi, said the Dec. 17 poll was a “fiasco,”¬†calling for mass protests to demand snap presidential elections. The vote was boycotted by most opposition parties. (BBC News) ¬†