Kais Saied and the great calamity in Tunisia – Middle East Monitor

The way Tunisian President Kais Saied wrote and addressed a letter to the Prime Minister recently was revealing. He seems to have given up his role in directing Tunisian diplomacy and shaping the country’s foreign policy, and instead started grappling with conflicts and meaningless nonsense. Meanwhile, Tunisia has never been less visible in international affairs.

About eighteen months since Saied took office, his official visits to foreign states are far from exceptional. His visit to Oman to pay tribute to him after the death of Sultan Qaboos was purely formal, for example. he did not play any significant role in the Libyan conflict, even Tunisia‘s neighbor, is strategically important.

Some people have compared Saied to Donald Trump by combining populism with an inflated ego that goes beyond self-confidence on the verge of vanity. The former US president considered himself to be above the constitution because he wants to “make America great again”. Saied took the same path as he won the elections by a large majority and then interpreted the constitutional texts according to his personal whims. But as an expert in constitutional law, he knows that this task falls within the competence of the Constitutional Court, to which he contributes by disrupting its training.

Despite Saied’s attempt to deepen the meaning of his terminology, embellish his words, and rhyme his sentences, a college professor detected three errors in the letter to the Prime Minister that sparked widespread ridicule. He was not worthy of the status of Tunisia or, for that matter, of the president of the most important emerging democracy in the Arab world.

READ: Will the new Tunisian government reshuffle take place?

However, the great calamity is not completely about what was mentioned above, but centers on the tendency to belittle Tunisian democracy and distort its results. This reinforces the sense of hopelessness among young people about the possibility of achieving change through the ballot box. Sadly, Saied provides the best example of this tragedy.

We no longer need to threaten people with a fate similar to that of Syria, Yemen and Libya. We can now ask ourselves: “Do you want a model like the Tunisian president?”

Supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied hold a protest in Tunis, Tunisia, Jan.31, 2021. [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

Sadly, it looks like Saied has a lot of free time to do some crazy things, like his letter to the Prime Minister, which it shouldn’t be. The legislation is on his desk awaiting signature, and he has not submitted any legal proposals to parliament, like his predecessor Beji Caid Essebsi made.

Saied disappointed many of his supporters who called on him to dissolve parliament. He neither did this nor followed up on the proposal to form popular committees according to their vision. Neither did he propose a popular referendum on such fundamental issues, nor let the state and its institutions do their job. He even refused to let the new ministers take the oath.

The president’s ambiguous ideas remain a mystery, including his statement that political authority must express the true will of the people. How and what does it take to achieve this through democratic means? And how to project this process into the Tunisian constitution?

President Saied’s excessive populism is worrying given his lack of confidence in parliament and political parties. This suggests that there is an inherent danger in electing a non-politician to such a post given the decisions he may make as head of state overnight.

Since Tunisian constitutionalists, including professors who taught at Saïed, have confirmed that the current government has not violated the constitution in any way, it should really go back to the constitution, act like a president and rise to the top. -above conflicts, while ensuring respect for state institutions and facilitating their roles.

READ: Tunisian President accuses Prime Minister of violating constitution

This article first appeared in Arabic in Arab21 February 17, 2021

The opinions expressed in this article are the property of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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About Wesley V. Finley

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