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Tunisia ’s Saied unleashes the democracy of the young “Arab Spring”

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Tunisia — President Kais Saied proposed a new constitution that formalizes his radical seizure of power after dismantling much of Tunisia's young democracy in a turbulent month of 11 months.

But as he prepares for a referendum to approve his changes, the challenge becomes even greater as the economy faces a collapse and opposition to his rules grows.

A former law instructor with a strong public attitude, Saeed opposed Congress last summer, giving him the right to tank the building, govern by law, and give him ultimate authority over the judiciary. I accepted it.

He described his actions as a corrective measure against political dysfunction and corruption caused by the 2014 Constitution, which shared power between the President and Parliament. ..

However, his critics say that he was a new dictator whose power gain was equal to a coup last year, and a march to one rule ruined the democratic interests of the 2011 Revolution in Tunisia. Is called.

The constitution he announced late Thursday enshrines the president's supreme role, leaving both parliament and the judiciary to the functioning of the state he leads, not a branch of power in itself. ing.

On July 25, 2021, after assembling seize power as the beginning of a new republic, he set a referendum on his new constitution on that day's anniversary.

Saeed was a beginner in politics when he was elected president in 2019. In less than two years, he made a sudden move against Congress, defeating experienced political enemies, including the Islamic Ennahda Party. And the previous cabinet. These steps signaled the start of his bid to accumulate power.

They seemed very popular among Tunisians who were fed up with political and financial fatigue. Thousands of people went out to the streets to celebrate, and the president was clearly convinced that he represented the will of the people.

His supporters welcomed him as an independent and sincere man who confronted the elite forces that plagued Tunisia with decades of political paralysis and economic stagnation.

However, critics are deeply skeptical of the promise he made in the draft constitution to protect the rights and freedoms he acquired in 2011, and Tunisia's early democracy. It states that it is suppressing. Saeed portrayed his enemies as enemies of the people and urged the arrest of those who opposed him.

It's unclear how much support Sayed continues to enjoy, but polls show a decline in his support. The economy is facing serious problems and Tunisians are becoming increasingly poor.

Strong unions have also shown that they have already launched a public sector strike over the economic reforms needed to bail out the IMF and are opposed to his referendum.

Opposition to Sayed is fragmented, with the most powerful parties refusing to set aside old differences to reject his plans, but in protests against him thousands. We are mobilizing as many demonstrators.

In contrast, after last year's pro-Sayed rally attended by Reuters journalists, the president boasted that only a few thousand had gathered, and he was his supporter. 1.8 million people boasted that they flocked to the streets.

New Revolution

Tunisia's politics is due to the role of the country that triggered the 2011 "Arab Spring" uprising and its success as the only democracy to emerge from Tunisia. It is attracting attention overseas.

A solemn 64-year-old Sayed, who speaks the ultra-formal style of classical Arabic, wants to rewrite the history of the revolution as he talks to protesters in the old town of Tunis at night. thinking about.

He changed the date of the anniversary of the state to downplay the expulsion of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of the dictatorship, rejecting the consequences of subsequent fierce negotiations. It led to a democratic constitution.

The 2014 Constitution held a spectacular national dialogue with rival parties and civil society to overcome fierce debates over compromises that seemed to unite the country. It was an organizational job.

He was elected an independent candidate in 2019 and defeated the media tycoon accused of corruption in his second landslide victory, proclaiming a new revolution.

In addition to dismissing the unpopular but elected parliament, Saeed expelled previously independent judicial authorities and election committees, raising concerns about the rule of law and the integrity of elections. Caused.

He also purged state officials, including some of the security forces, to expel people involved in major political parties.

Since then, he wants to hold a new parliamentary election in December.

For many Tunisians, Saeed is like a caricature, and in his frequent online videos, he lectures his subordinates and visitors from behind the president's desk. It is shown.

These videos give little insight into policy plans to address Tunisia's major economic problems, but in addition to the fear of the president pursuing rhetorical objectives. Often contains intense rhetoric against his critics and opponents.

(reported by Angus McDowall, edited by Alison Williams)