Tunisian Constitution Panel Boss Condemns President's Draft

A protest against President Kais Saied (file photo).

The head of Tunisia's constitution committee has rejected a proposed new constitution put forward by the President, warning it could "pave the way for a disgraceful dictatorial regime".

Sadok Belaid is a former constitutional law professor who was appointed by President Kais Saied to draft the constitution.

However in a letter to the Assabah newspaper, Belaid said the version written by the committee had been changed to the point it was unrecognisable.

"The draft published by Mr Saied contains considerable risks and shortcomings," Belaid said, adding that an article on "imminent danger" guaranteed the President "very broad powers, under conditions that he alone determines".

"It is our duty to strongly and truthfully announce that the constitution that was officially published ... and presented for referendum does not resemble the constitution we prepared and sent to the president."

Referendum

The proposed constitution is to be voted on at a referendum on 25 July. Its success, Belaid warned, would be the beginning of a "bad future" for Tunisia.

Saied has not commented on the constitution since he published the text last Thursday in Tunisia's official gazette.

His critics accuse him of dragging the country back to the autocratic form of government that was overthrown during the 2014 Arab Spring.

Opposition political parties are urging their supporters to boycott the vote.

Many Tunisians, meanwhile, are more focused on a growing economic crisis and threats to public finances that have caused salary delays and the risk of shortages of key subsidised goods.

There is no minimum level of participation for the constitution to be validated through referendum.

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