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Some Tunisian politicians say they oppose Saied’s reported plans

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September 10, 2021

TUNIS (Reuters) – Some prominent Tunisian politicians on Friday came out against the president suspending or changing the constitution, as one of his advisers has said he is planning after seizing ruling powers in July.

President Kais Saied intends to suspend the constitution and will put a new version to a referendum, his adviser Walid Hajjem told Reuters on Thursday in the first clear indication of his plans since his intervention more than six weeks ago.

Saied’s moves on July 25 to sack the prime minister, suspend parliament and take over executive authority appeared to be widely popular but his political foes have called it a coup.

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They have thrust Tunisia into its biggest political crisis since the 2011 uprising that introduced democracy and the 2014 constitution that split powers between an elected parliament and president.

The main labour union, the UGTT, which with a million members is Tunisia’s most powerful political force, did not comment on Hajjem’s remarks, but it has previously called on Saied to change the political system.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda, the biggest party in parliament which has condemned Saied’s moves since July 25, did not issue any new statement on Friday but a senior member said the president must act within constitutional bounds.

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Saied has no right to change the political system from outside the constitution, said the Ennahda official Abdel-Latif El-Makki, a former government minister.

The Attayar party, the third largest in parliament, said on Friday it rejects “any individual attempt at exploiting the legitimate anger of Tunisians to impose political options that do not enjoy consensus.”

It said Tunisia’s political and economic crises were due to corruption among the ruling class rather than because of the constitution.

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Abir Moussi, the leader of the Free Destourian Party and a supporter of the former autocratic administration that was ousted in 2011, said suspending the constitution was dangerous.

“Who will guarantee our freedoms?” she said.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Richard Chang)

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