Tunisia: president dissolves Supreme Judicial Council

Tunisian President Kais Saied officially dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council on Feb. 6, sending police to seal the chamber where the body meets. The Council's head, Youssef Bouzakher, called the dissolution "illegal," and said it is aimed at bringing Tunisia's jurists under control of the executive. Established in 2016, the Council is a constitutional body entrusted with ensuring the independence of the judiciary, responsible for appointing judges and taking disciplinary action. Bouzakher said the Council intends to continue working in defiance of the president's announcement.

Saied's move comes amid growing unrest, with protesters taking to the streets in defiance of a ban on all demonstrations as an ostensible COVID-19 containment measure. January saw mass protests in Tunis commemorating the 2011 pro-democracy uprising. At least one was killed in last month's protests, according to campaign group Citizens Against the Coup. Protests again erupted on the same day Saied dissolved the Judicial Council, marking the 2013 assassination of progressive opposition leader Chokri Belaid

On July 25, 2021, Saied seized near-total powers, dismissing his cabinet, dissolving the parliament, revoking the immunity granted to legislators, and assuming the role of the public prosecutor. Critics have termed the power-grab a "self-coup" that violates the Tunisian constitution. (JuristAl Jazeera, Al Jazeera, Al JazeeraDW, MENAFN, Tunis Afrique Presse, ReutersAmnesty International)

See our last report on the political crisis in Tunisia.

Tunisia: parliament dissolved, lawmakers under investigation

Political crisis in Tunisia has intensified following President Kais Saied's decision to dissolve the parliament after freezing it in a power grab last July. The decree came on March 30, hours after lawmakers held a plenary session online and voted to end his exceptional measures, which include suspension of the chamber and the sacking of the prime minister, along with the seizure of legislative and judicial powers. 

Tunisia's justice minister has since launched a criminal investigation into members of the now-dissolved parliament who took part in the online session. As many as 121 out of 216 of the participants were summoned for questioning by a special judicial anti-terrorism unit on April 1. (Al Jazeera)

Tunisia: new constitution expands executive power

Tunisian citizens voted July 25 to adopt a new constitution drafted by President Kais Saied which greatly expands the president's powers. In an election with only 25% turnout due to a boycott, the constitution was adopted by over 90% of voters. In addition to eroding the independence of the judiciary, the new constitution eliminates human rights and gender equality safeguards that were included in the 2014 constitution. (Jurist

Tunisia: president urged to resign after 'fiasco' election

Tunisia's main opposition coalition has said President Kais Saied must resign after fewer than 9% of eligible voters took part in parliamentary elections. The National Salvation Front head, Nejib Chebbi, said the Dec. 17 poll was a "fiasco," calling for mass protests to demand snap presidential elections. The vote was boycotted by most opposition parties. (BBC News)