Tunisia: Dissolution of local councils exacerbates one-man rule and violates democratic will
Stockholm - Skyline International for Human Rights is astonished by Tunisian President Kais Said's decision to dissolve local councils elected in 2018, stressing that this decision is a blatant attack on fundamental rights, which are experiencing a continuous decline. This began when Tunisian President Kais Said announced the measures on July 25, 2021, which include the suspension of parliament, the lifting of parliamentary immunity for deputies, the dismissal of the prime minister and the appointment of Said as attorney general.
In a statement released today (Saturday), Skyline points out that the Tunisian President announced last Thursday that he would "dissolve the local councils elected in 2018," and that just hours after that announcement, a law was published in the Tunisian Official Gazette dissolving those councils and amending the law governing the election of their members. The resolution states that "all local councils will be dissolved until new local councils are elected"
Skyline points out that in May 2018, the country experienced its first local elections after the 2011 revolution. This time, the Independent High Authority for Elections announced that the independent lists participating in the elections won 2373 seats, followed by the Islamist-leaning Ennahda party with 2139 seats and the "Nidaa Tounes" party with 1,600 seats.
Skyline indicates that due to political conflicts, the councils got into serious disputes about the political affiliation of their members, which ended with the dissolution of some of them and the holding of new elections. These elections made it possible to implement the principle of decentralization of power enshrined in the 2014 Constitution, which is one of the demands of the revolution that started from the marginalized regions of the country.
At this point, it should be noted that in April 2018, the Tunisian Parliament passed the Local Communities Law, which for the first time granted municipalities the privilege of independent councils that act freely and have wide-ranging powers. However, this changed in July 2022 when, a new constitution was adopted that guarantees limited powers to parliament in exchange for granting the president the majority of executive powers, including the appointment of the government and its prime minister.
For its part, the "Skyline" expressed its astonishment at the decision to dissolve the municipal councils, especially since their term ends in June, stressing that this decision is an attack on the will of the voters of the citizens and a continuation of the constant violations of rights that the country suffers.
Since July 2021, the country has experienced constant attacks on fundamental rights, including the arrest of members of the Tunisian Parliament on charges related to freedom of expression, and authorities have arbitrarily placed at least 50 Tunisian MPs under house arrest, including former officials and judges. In addition, dozens of newspapers and website offices are raided daily without judicial authorization.
Despite the repeated statements of Tunisian President Kais Said, in which he always emphasises that "there is absolutely no room for the violation of human rights and no room for the violation of rights and freedoms," the continuously observed facts prove otherwise, especially since these measures directly target a group of fundamental rights guaranteed under international law, including freedom of opinion, expression, and peaceful assembly.
"Skyline" concluded his statement by calling on the President of the Republic, "Kais Saeed", to reverse his recent decision regarding the dissolution of local councils and all decisions that would unlawfully restrict the fundamental rights of individuals, that these decisions, if continued, will have disturbing consequences, as they seriously violate the rules of international law'.