Tunisia: Saied - President of Republic Is Head of Miltary and Civilian Armed Forces

Tunis/Tunisia — President Kaïs Saïed affirmed on Sunday that "according to the Constitution, the President of the Republic is the head of the military and civilian armed forces, without any distinction".

Presiding over the ceremony celebrating the 65th anniversary of the internal security forces at Carthage Palace, the Head of State stressed that "the principle is that there is no distinction. The law, all the texts in the world and the Code of Contracts and Obligations mention this. The armed forces are the military forces and the security forces".

He explained during the ceremony, which took place in the presence of Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi and Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, that the law on internal security forces states that they are a civilian armed force. He also recalled that the Customs Code states that customs officers have the right to carry weapons in the exercise of their duties.

President Saïed had already raised this issue and experts' opinions differed on the interpretation of the Constitution, particularly with regard to the prerogatives of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister.

In this connection, Kaïs Saïed affirmed that the 2015 legislative text relating to the functions of the President of the Republic is "unconstitutional", thus recalling the primacy of the Constitution.

"According to the Constitution, the President of the Republic appoints and dismisses in the high military, diplomatic and national security duties after consultation with the Prime Minister. I do not seek to monopolise these forces, but the text is clear, and anyone who did not clearly understand it in 2014 (the year of the promulgation of the Constitution, editor's note) must seize it today," he insisted.

During the ceremony, the President of the Republic paid tribute to the constant efforts made by the armed forces "in this difficult health and political situation", calling on them to apply the law without distinction and recalling that "everyone is equal before the law".

He added: "The armed forces must be at the service of the people and set an example in the implementation of the law on all and without exceptions subject to money, foreign relations, family alliances or kinship.

The Head of State also stressed the need to establish a state governed by the rule of law and institutions and a society governed by the rule of law "whose members and components are respectful of the law".

At the end of the ceremony, President Said decorated executives and officers belonging to the various bodies of the internal security forces.

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