Tunisia: No checks and balances on President Saied’s one-man rule

Nine months after his power grab, Tunisian President Kais Saied has managed to dismantle the rule of law and all checks and balances on his authoritarian rule, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said today.

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Since 25 July 2021, President Saied has suspended most of the constitution, dissolved the parliament, and subordinated the High Judicial Council to his control.

On 22 April 2022, he issued Decree No. 2022-22 amending the composition of the Independent High Authority for Elections (Instance Supérieure Indépendante pour les Élections, ISIE), a permanent, independent public authority entrusted with oversight powers to guarantee the conduct of fair and transparent elections and referenda.

While the 2014 Constitution provides for the ISIE to be independent and the law provides for its members to be elected by the Parliament, Decree No. 2022-22 empowers the President, without any constitutional or legal basis, to appoint its entire membership, casting an ominous question mark over the fairness and transparencyof any upcoming referenda and elections in the country.

“Decree No. 2022-22 ends the independence of the ISIE and with it, the existence of any independent constitutional bodies that can act as a check on the President,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA director. “The laws and institutions that protected the integrity of elections over the past 11 years must be reinstated.”      

President Saied has also foreshadowed a plan to amend Tunisia’s electoral laws. However, Article 70 of Tunisia’s 2014 Constitution explicitly prohibits any modification of the electoral system by decree-laws at a time when Parliament is dissolved.

“The overhaul of the electoral system through unlawful decrees would be a lethal blow to Tunisia’s already moribund democratic rule,” added Benarbia.


Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, email: said.benarbia(at)icj(dot)org, phone number: +41-22-979-3817

Asser Khattab, Research and Communications Officer at the ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, email: asser.khattab(at)icj(dot)org

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