Tunisia's president says necessary to amend constitution

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • President Kais Saied of Tunisia has tabled 'necessary' plans to amend the nation's current Constitution.
  • President Saied says this will be coupled with forming a new government that is full of integrity. 
  • His announcement follows the dismissal of a prime minister and Parliament that attempted to overthrow him.

Tunisian President Kais Saied has announced plans to amend the constitution and form a new government months after he dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament in moves his critics called a coup.

Speaking to two TV stations after an evening stroll through the heart of the capital on Saturday, Saied said he would form a new government "as soon as possible" after selecting "the people with the most integrity". But he declined to give a specific timeline.

Saied also said it was necessary to change the constitution.

He added:

The Tunisian people rejected the constitution. We can introduce amendments to the text.
- while adding that the charter is "not eternal".

Elected in late 2019, the legal theorist and former law professor has billed himself as the ultimate interpreter of the constitution. He invoked that power on 25 July to fire the prime minister, freeze parliament and assume all executive powers.

The power grab came amid chronic legislative infighting that had crippled governance and was followed by a sweeping anti-corruption drive that has included detentions, travel bans and house arrests of politicians, businessmen and judicial officials.

Saied has yet to appoint a new government or reveal a roadmap towards normality, despite repeated demands by political parties.

His moves have been criticised by judges and opponents, in particular the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the largest bloc in parliament.

But some Tunisians, exasperated by their political class and its perceived corruption, impunity and failure to improve living standards more than a decade since the country's protests launched the Arab Spring, see them as a necessary evil.

The chants of "Dignity!" and "Work!" that filled the air during the revolution have again started to sound at demonstrations.

OPINION | Tunisian Ambassador to SA: The Tunisian President does support democracy by Narjes Dridi

In images posted on the Tunisian presidency's Facebook page Saturday, Saied was seen walking down the capital's Bourguiba Avenue as a crowd sang the national anthem, before he stopped to speak with the TV channels.

Earlier that day on the same central thoroughfare, a man set himself on fire, later dying of his burns.

The act of self-immolation followed another just days before protesting living conditions and recalling the street vendor who burned himself alive on 17 December 2010 and launched both Tunisia's revolution and the Arab Spring.

Hailed as a rare democratic success story in the Middle East and North Africa, Tunisia was struggling with dire economic woes and the Covid-19 pandemic before being plunged into the latest political crisis.

Earlier this month, diplomats from G7 nations - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US - called on Saied to return Tunisia to "a constitutional order" and urged him to convey a clear way forward.

Did you know you can listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 1457 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 8030 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1662 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.