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Two months before the constitutional and legislative referendum scheduled for July 25 in Tunisia, President Kaïs Saïed has just lost a strategic ally: the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) has confirmed that it will not participate in the dialogue proposed by the leader of the State with the aim of founding a “New Republic”.
“We were not consulted upstream for the terms of this dialogue and we do not have to play the role of advisers to the president”asserted Wednesday, May 25 Sami Tahri, the spokesman of the powerful trade union center during a press conference in Tunis.
The presidential initiative aimed to respond to the criticisms of the opposition and Tunisia’s foreign partners on the lack of transparency and inclusion in the decisions of the Head of State who assumed full powers on July 25, 2021. It had the opposite effect.
In a decree-law promulgated on May 19, Kaïs Saïed set up a body responsible for drafting the new Constitution and made up of three other structures: an advisory commission responsible for “economic and social affairs”, made up of the UGTT but also of the employers’ organization Utica and other unions and associations; a legal commission in charge of drawing up a new constitution; and finally a commission “national dialogue” responsible for summarizing the reports of the two previous “for the establishment of a new Republic”, according to the terms of the decree.
“That’s going too far”
Neither political parties nor civil society are included in this « dialogue » who must “to submit a report by June 20 and then go to the referendum on July 25”, recalls the jurist Mouna Kraïem Dridi. “It is completely unrealistic: no one writes a new Constitution in twenty days, then explains a draft of constitutional and legislative reforms in less than a month to the population”, denounces the one who considers that this program serves just “to legitimize what looks like a plebiscite project in favor of the president”.
The UGTT seems to have drawn the same conclusions when it decided to refuse the dialogue proposed by the head of state, which the union had supported at the time of its coup de force in July. “We have been very tolerant with the measures taken since July 25, we have even defended the new trajectory that the country was taking, but this is going too far”affirms Samir Chaffi, deputy general secretary of the UGTT.
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