drafting a new constitution

Tunisians divided over new constitution 

Tunisians have been divided over the content of a controversial draft of their proposed new constitution, for which a referendum is to be held. 

What’s in the draft? 

The draft, which was released last week, would limit the powers of the Prime Minister and the parliament while increasing those of the President. It would also establish a bicameral legislative system for the first time. Many groups, notably the influential UGTT central trade union, have criticized the lack of a public discussion in the process of creating the new constitution, which they have termed “the Constitution of Kais Saied.” 

When is the referendum? 

The referendum is set to take place on July 25, exactly one year after President Kais Saied seized power and suspended the legislature, an action he said was necessary to “rescue the country” from political and economic crises. Dismissing his claim, the opposition strongly objected, alleging that he was moving closer to totalitarianism. 

The proposed new constitution and other actions of the president have left Tunisians divided. A 45-year-old Tunis resident, Abdelawi, while expressing support for Saied, said; “I support this constitution or the coup as they (opponents) call it”. On the other side of the fence, Saied’s opponents have been very critical of the entire process. “I will not participate in the referendum, simply because it does not represent me. It is the constitution of one individual, of Kaies Said,” said Mohsen Saad, a teacher. 

The new constitution, if passed, would be a shift from the current one, which was widely accepted when it was passed in 2014. While it limits the President to two five-year terms, the new constitution would leave the Prime Minister and Ministers at the mercy of the President, who would be empowered to appoint and dismiss them. 

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