News ID: 99995
Publish Date : 13 February 2022 - 21:32

Thousands Take to Streets Against Tunisian President’s New Powers

TUNIS (AFP) – Thousands of
Tunisians protested on Sunday, hours after President Kais Saied officially replaced a judicial watchdog and gave himself powers to sack judges and ban them from going on strike.
Hours after the decree was published early Sunday morning, more than 2,000 protesters gathered in central Tunis, many waving flags and chanting slogans in support of an independent judiciary.
“Freedom! Freedom! The police state is finished,” some chanted.
Saied’s decree came a week after he said he would dissolve the High Judicial Council (CSM), prompting a nationwide shutdown of courts by judges saying the move would infringe on judicial independence. The move was met with harsh criticism from Youssef Bouzakher, Tunisia’s top judge, who accused Saied of undermining the judiciary’s independence.
Sunday’s ruling, establishing a new 21-member “Temporary Supreme Judicial Council” -- nine of whom are appointed by the president -- also gives him powers to dismiss “any judge failing to do his professional duties”.
The temporary new council, with no fixed term, said in an official decree on Sunday that Saied had the right to object to the promotion or nomination of judges across the country, and was responsible for proposing judicial reforms.
More than 200 judges and lawyers in black robes protested in front of the main court in the Tunisian capital Tunis, shouting slogans and calling for Saied to respect the independence of the judiciary.
Some held signs stating, “There is no democracy without an independent judiciary.”
Saied, who took power with the promise of reforms, called the Supreme Judicial Council a “thing of the past,” and accused members of the council of taking “billions” in bribes. The Tunisian president also accused council members of delaying politically sensitive investigations, including a probe into the assassinations of left-wing activists in 2013.
Saied has already seized absolute control over both executive and legislative authority, dismissing several ministers and top officials as part of reforms, with critics accusing him of seeking authoritarian powers.