Tunisia: Civil Society Calls On President Saied to Widen His Circle of Consultation

Tunis/Tunisia — Twenty Tunisian associations warned President Kais Saied against the risk of continuing to "tighten his grip on the reins of power" without specifying the duration of the exceptional measures he decided to extend on September 22 for an indefinite period.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, these associations call on President Said to appoint the next Prime Minister on the basis of competence, far from the logic of allegiance and favoritism that has plagued the institutions of the State over the past ten years, so that Tunisia can get out of the suffocating economic and social crisis it is facing and speed up the implementation of political reforms.

The signatory associations point out that the lack of swift and decisive action since the announcement of these measures to bring to account those most involved in corruption and illegal activities and the publication of presidential decree 117 on September 22 have given rise to "legitimate fears."

They express concern in particular about "the monopolisation of power, the threats to constitutional gains which may result from the concentration of all powers in the hands of the Head of State and the absence of legislative and executive counter-powers."

The associations express their deep worry that the President of the Republic limits himself to consulting a few close personalities on legal, political, economic and social issues that are decisive for Tunisia's future.

They urge him to widen the circle of consultations and dialogue to include "patriotic" Tunisians, in particular the high-level competences and personalities of integrity in which the country abounds in various fields and who are known for their independence from the various lobbies, as well as representatives of political parties who enjoy good credibility with the people and who are not involved in corruption cases.

They also reaffirm the need to respect freedom of expression and of the press, gained thanks to the Revolution of Freedom and Dignity, and call for journalists and the media to have access to information in order to put an end to rumours due to the lack of accurate information from the source, and to prevent attacks on journalists while carrying out their work.

The signatories also warned against the danger posed by certain media that continue to broadcast illegally, such as the Zitouna TV channel, which is close to the Ennahdha Movement, and the Nessma TV channel.

They also decry the fact that these two channels and a number of other media continue to mislead public opinion and incite Tunisians to hatred for partisan purposes.

The associations consider that lobbies, which use the media as a springboard to achieve their political ambitions, have considerably contributed to hindering the democratic process and fuelling the suffocating political, economic and social crisis in the country.

They consider, however, that no measure to repair the damage caused by the successive governments and parties that have ruled the country over the past ten years can succeed without a working programme involving the most competent experts and civil society representatives.

"Those who have governed during the last decade have seriously undermined human rights values and democracy, contributed to the spread of clientelism and anarchy in society and pushed Tunisia to the brink of bankruptcy and chaos.

Among the signatory associations are the Attalaki Association for Freedom and Equality, the Association Beity, Association Citizenship Development Cultures Migrations of the two shores (CDCMIR), the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities, the Committee of Vigilance for Democracy in Tunisia - Belgium, the National Observatory for the Defence of the Civilian Nature of the State, the 23_10 Organisation for the Support of the Democratic Transition Process, the Organisation against Torture in Tunisia, the Tunisian Association for the Defence of Individual Liberties, the Association Vigilance for Democracy and the Civic State, etc.

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