Former constitutional law professor Sadok Belaid says constitutional chapters could pave the way for a “shameful dictatorial regime”.
The head of Tunisia’s constitutional committee has condemned the proposed constitution put forward by President Kais Saied this week, local newspaper Assabah reported.
Sadok Belaid, a former constitutional law professor appointed by Saied to write a “new constitution for a new republic,” said Saied’s version was dangerous and did not resemble the first draft proposed by the constitutional committee.
Belaid said that the final constitution published by the president contains chapters that could pave the way for “a shameful dictatorial regime.”
“…it is our duty to announce firmly and truthfully that the constitution that was officially published…and presented for referendum is not relevant to the constitution that we prepared and sent to the president,” he said in a letter published by the Assabah daily.
The president has not commented on the constitution since publishing the text in Tunisia’s official daily on Thursday. The constitution would give Saied far more powers and will be put to a referendum next month.
On Saturday, the leader of the powerful UGTT union also said the proposed constitution could threaten democracy in the country.
But the union, a major political force with more than a million members, said it would allow its members the freedom to vote on Saied’s proposed constitution.
Voters will be asked to approve the constitution in a referendum on July 25.
Saied has ruled by decree since last year, when he tossed aside parliament and the 2014 democratic constitution in a move his enemies called a coup, moving toward one-man rule and vowing to remake the political system.
The UGTT said that the proposed constitution retains chapters related to freedoms and rights, but that some restrictions and lack of guarantees could threaten these freedoms and rights and offer an opportunity to violate them.
The draft constitution published in the official gazette would grant most of the political power to Saied, giving him ultimate authority over the government and the judiciary.
Previously, political power was exercised more directly by parliament, which assumed the main role in appointing the government and passing legislation.
Under the proposed new constitution, the government would answer to the president and not parliament, although the chamber could withdraw confidence from the government with a two-thirds majority.
Saied would be allowed to introduce bills, have sole responsibility for proposing treaties and drafting state budgets, appointing or dismissing government ministers, and appointing judges.