Tunisia gives more powers to the president in the first referendum in its history amid suspicions of irregularities

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Tunisia gives more powers to the president in the first referendum in its history amid suspected irregularities

Tunisians voted this Monday in favor of having a new constitution that will reinforce their the powers of the head of state,Kais Saied. The president of the electoral authority, Farouk Bouakser has reported the preliminary results of the vote that confirmed the victory of the “yes” vote. to the new model with 94.6%. However, the high level of abstention, 70%,questions the guarantee of the referendum and its “political legitimacy”.

The opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front (FSN), what did you ask for? boycott the vote, accused on Tuesday to the electoral authority for having “amplified” and “falsified” the participation data. According to the organization, only 27.54% of the 9.3 million votersregistered voted. An exit poll had anticipated a “yes” win. to the Constitution of between 92% and 93%. In the last legislative elections of 2019, the participation rate was 32%.

You ;nez, cradle of the Arab Spring, is suffering an economic crisis aggravated by covid and the war in Ukraine, on which it depends for its wheat imports. The country is very polarized since Saied, elected in 2019, concentrated all powers in his hands on July 25, 2021, arguing that the country was ungovernable. But the opposition FSN, of which the Ennahda Islamist movement is a part, that “75% of Tunisians refused to give their approval to the coup project launched a year ago by Kais Saied.”

Said Banerbia , of the oenegé International Commission of Jurists, criticized the for its part, the legitimacy of the vote. “Any constitution that results [from that vote] does not reflect the vision of the majority of Tunisians and lacks democratic legitimacy and national ownership” , he told AFP. For the analyst Youssef Cherif,“Most people have voted for the man [Kais Saied] or against his opponents, not for his text.”

This is the case with Noureddine al-Rezgui, a bailiff working in Tunisia. “The Tunisians want to get rid of the old system and take a new turn,” he said. Al-Rezgui relativized the low turnout, like the expertAbellatif Hannachi,who judged her “Respectable considering that the vote was organized in the summer, during the holidays and in the heat of the heat.”

Celebrating the victory

After the exit poll was released According to the consultancy Sigma Conseil on national television, hundreds of Saied supporters came out to celebrate the victory in caravans of vehicles through the center of the capital waving flags and honking horns.

The president appeared in front of the crowd where declared that Tunisia had “entered a new phase,” according to local television. The new Magna Cartawill allow He went from “a situation of hopelessness to one of hope,” he added.

Much of the support came of “the most impacted middle class” by years of economic crisisa, analyzed Sigma Council. Saied's critics warn that the new Constitutionwill tie It breaks presidential powers and opens “the door to a dictatorial regime,” according to Sadeq Belaid, a Saied mentor who participated in the trial. in the drafting of the text, but rejected it. the final document.

The text, which breaks with the parliamentary system in force since 2014, puts the president in charge of the army, allows him to designate a government without legislative approval and This makes it impossible to impeach him.

Course correction

The 64-year-old president wields power more and more alone. Saied considers that the constitutional reform is an extension of the “course correction” that began on July 25, 2021 when, alleging political and economic blockades, he dismissed his prime minister and suspended temporarily the functions of Parliament before dissolving it in March.

For the analyst Youssef Cherif, the spaces of freedom continue to be guaranteed, but the question of the return A dictatorial regime similar to that of the former autocrat Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, could be considered “in the post-Kais Saied era”. For many experts, Saied's political future will depend on of his ability to reactivate a bad economic situation, with youth unemployment of 40%.

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