Tunisian politicians call for resumption of parliament | Politics News
Ennahdha asks the speaker of parliament to resume the work of the assembly, while dozens of lawmakers reject Saied’s decision to rule by decree.
Tunisia’s Ennahdha party has called on the speaker of parliament to work towards resuming work in the assembly, which appears to be the first challenge to President Kais Saied’s decision to suspend parliament two months ago.
The party’s call on Wednesday comes after Saied suspended the assembly and sacked the government on July 25 in exceptional measures his opponents called a coup. Last week, Saied announced the abolition of most parts of the constitution and said he would rule by presidential decree.
Separately, at least 73 of the 217 MPs from various parliamentary blocs on Wednesday signed a statement rejecting Saied’s decision to rule by decree rather than through parliament, and called for the resumption of parliamentary sessions in early October.
In a joint declaration, the signatories called on all parties to “unite” and “overcome differences to defend the values of the republic and democracy”.
MEPs expressed their “refusal to transfer all executive, legislative and judicial powers into the hands of one person”. This decision, they said, disrupts the Tunisian constitution and risks “an absolute authoritarian regime”, they added.
The statement came after the president appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane, a geologist with little government experience, as Tunisia’s first female prime minister earlier Wednesday.
National and international pressure
Saied asked Romdhane, a little-known geophysics professor who implemented projects from the World Bank to the Ministry of Education, to form a government as quickly as possible.
The 62-year-old will take office at a time of national crisis, the democratic gains won during a 2011 revolution being questioned and while a substantial threat hangs over public finances.
Elected in 2019, Saied has come under national and international pressure to appoint a government after sacking the prime minister, suspending parliament and assuming executive power in moves his enemies call a coup.
Saied’s decisions have placed vast executive powers in the hands of the president, who will head the cabinet himself.
Ennahdha’s statement highlights how parties in parliament can challenge the legality of any government appointed without the consent of the suspended chamber.
After the Prime Minister’s appointment, Saied spoke with outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel’s office said she told him it was essential to return to parliamentary democracy in dialogue with other political actors.
A senior Tunisian politician told Reuters news agency last week that a new prime minister would face an intimidating inbox as most government work had come to a standstill in the past two months and a wide range of files required urgent attention.
The country is facing a rapidly looming public finance crisis after years of economic stagnation exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and internal political struggles.
While many Tunisians have supported Saied and see his actions as necessary to eliminate a corrupt and unpopular political elite after years of economic stagnation, his critics from all walks of life have said he is inexperienced and uncompromising.
Earlier this week, many political parties opposed to his latest measures announced a coalition to oppose Saied’s measures to seize power in power.