FACTBOX-What’s in the draft new Tunisian constitution?
A draft new constitution for Tunisia significantly strengthens the powers of the head of state, heightening fears from critics of President Kais Saied that it aims to entrench one-man rule and undo the democratic gains of the uprising in Tunisia. Arab Spring of 2011.
However, many Tunisians hailed Saied’s move to scrap the old system of power-sharing between parliament and the president, frustrated by years of political paralysis and petty feuds. The new constitution, which will be put to a referendum on July 25, erodes a parliamentary system established in the 2014 constitution.
Here are some of its main features: THE PRESIDENT FORMS THE GOVERNMENT
– Article 101 stipulates that the President appoints the Prime Minister, as well as the other members of the cabinet, on the basis of a proposal by the Prime Minister – a big change from the current system which gives parliament a major role in the selection of governments. – Article 112 says that the government is responsible to the president, while article 87 says that the president exercises the executive function with the help of the government.
– Article 102 stipulates that the president can terminate the government or one of its members. – For parliament to force the resignation of the government, Article 115 stipulates that two-thirds of lawmakers must support a vote of no confidence, a margin greater than the simple majority currently required. Article 116 stipulates that if a second vote of no confidence is called during the same legislature, the president can either accept the government’s resignation or dissolve parliament, calling for a new election.
WEAKER PARLIAMENT – Article 68 gives the president the right to introduce bills in parliament, and says that these take precedence over other legislative proposals. He says that the president is the one who submits treaty agreement bills and finance bills.
– Article 61 provides that the mandate of a legislator may be withdrawn under the conditions defined by the electoral law. These are not specified. – Article 69 stipulates that bills and proposals for amendments to existing laws submitted by legislators are not acceptable if they disturb the financial balances of the State, without defining what this means.
– The new constitution would create a new ‘Council of Regions’ as the second chamber of parliament, but gives few details on how it would be elected or what powers it would have. PRESIDENTIAL PREROGATIVES
– The new constitution refers to legislative, judicial and executive “functions” rather than powers, language that critics say underscores the diminished position of these branches of government in the proposed presidential system. – Article 109 stipulates that the president enjoys immunity for the duration of his mandate and that he cannot be questioned about actions taken in the exercise of his functions.
– Article 95 allows the president to take “exceptional measures” if “there is an imminent danger threatening the republic, the security of the country and its independence”, after consultation with the Prime Minister and parliament. – Article 106 grants the President the power to make senior appointments in the military and civil services, based on a proposal by the Prime Minister.
– As in the current constitution, the president is the head of the armed forces. But where the internal security forces report to the government in the current constitution, they will now be accountable to the president. – Article 136 states that the president, or at least one third of the members of parliament, has the right to request the revision of the constitution, but amendments cannot include changes to the number of presidential terms, which is set at of them.
– Article 140 extends the validity of a presidential decree issued by Saied in September 2021 that allowed him to rule by decree, until elections to a newly elected parliament assume office. JUDICIAL POWERS
– As with the legislature and the executive, the judiciary is described as ‘a function’ rather than a ‘power’, which critics say speaks to its diminished status. – Article 120 stipulates that judges are appointed by order of the president, on the proposal of the competent Superior Council of the Judiciary. They are prohibited from striking.
ROLE OF ISLAM – Article 5 states that Tunisia is part of the Islamic nation and that only the state must work to achieve “the objectives of pure Islam by preserving life, honor, money , religion and freedom”. A sentence in the existing constitution, which Islamists say had long defined Tunisia as an Islamic state, was deleted. Article 88 stipulates that the president must be a Muslim.
FREEDOMS AND RIGHTS – Similar to the existing constitution, the new pledges to protect rights and freedoms, including the right to form political parties and to demonstrate. He says freedom of opinion and publication is guaranteed, as is freedom of belief.
– It says that the State guarantees equality between men and women, that it will endeavor to guarantee the representation of women in elected bodies and that it will take measures to combat violence against women. – Article 55 states that no restrictions shall be made on rights and freedoms “except by law and for the necessity of national defense or public safety” – also similar to the existing constitution.
(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alison Williams)
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)