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Tunisian President Fears the Use of Constitutional Court to Overthrow Him

Tunisian President Fears the Use of Constitutional Court to Overthrow Him

Saturday, 17 April, 2021 - 09:30
Tunisian president Kais Saied in Tunis (File photo: Reuters)

Tunisian President Kais Saied fears political parties will use the Constitutional Court to settle political scores, including removing him from his post, according to several political leaders.

The leaders indicated that the president did not sign a number of decrees and refused to receive the new ministers for constitutional oath following the ministerial reshuffle made by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.

“They want it to be a court for settling scores,” said Saied, asserting that he will implement the constitution despite not being convinced with a number of provisions.

The President, who is a professor of constitutional law, added that the constitution will prevail over all other legislation.

Addressing his political rivals, Saied warned that the Constitutional Court should not be toyed with, asserting that through the law, Tunisians will restore their right in their country and state.

Earlier this month, the president refused to sign the constitutional court law amendments introduced by the parliament, saying he has the right to resort to legal arguments, such as the constitutional deadlines stipulated in the 2014 constitution.

He also stressed the need to respect all provisions of the constitution aside from any “unscientific, and even malicious interpretation,” which brought to attention the possibility of using the Constitutional Court to overthrow him.

The Constitutional Court consists of 12 members, four of whom are appointed by the President, four elected by parliament, and four appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council.

The parliament approved the ratified revisions of the draft bill for electing members of the Constitutional Court and reduced the number of votes from 145 to only 131.

The amendment was proposed by Speaker Rached Ghannouchi to reduce the number of votes constitutionally necessary to pass the members of the court to 109 votes representing the absolute majority.

Observers believe Ennahda can obtain the necessary number of votes to pass certain candidates of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court can end the president of the republic's term, declaring the position of president vacant, receive the presidential oath and examine disputes related to the jurisdiction of both the president and prime minister.

It plays a pivotal role in monitoring constitutional amendments and treaties, draft laws and procedures related to the parliament's internal system.

Nawfal Saied, the president's brother, revealed serious concerns about the possibility of using the Constitutional Court, which is expected to be activated after more than five years of suspension, to remove the president from office.

He argued that the reason for speeding up the establishment of the Constitutional Court is to ensure the provision of the only constitutional mechanism to dismiss the president.

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