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Ennahda rejects Tunisian president’s decision to name board to draft constitution

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Tunisia's Rached Ghannouchi, the head of the moderate Islamist Ennahda and speaker of the parliament, attends an interview with Reuters in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2022. (Via Reuters)

Tunisia’s main opposition party, Ennahda, has rejected President Kais Saied’s decision to form an advisory committee to draft a new constitution.

In a statement on Sunday, Ennahda decried the decision as “a complete deviation from constitutional legitimacy.”

Saied on Friday named law professor Sadok Belaid to head the advisory committee that will draft a new constitution. The board has to submit its report to the president on June 20.

Ennahda and other parties decried the exclusion of the political parties from preparing the new constitution on Saturday.

The 2014 constitution was the result of intense negotiation among political parties and civil society bodies, but Saied has rejected calls for a similar inclusive dialog, saying those who opposed his measures should be banned from discussion on Tunisia’s future.

Tunisia has been gripped by a political crisis since the president dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspended parliament for 30 days in July 2021.

The Tunisian president said at the time that his decision was meant to “save Tunisia, the state, and the Tunisian people,” in the midst of growing public anger and protests against the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His opponents have slammed the move as a “coup,” while rights groups have warned that the country could be sliding back into autocracy.

Nearly two months later, Saied appointed Najla Bouden Romdhane, a little-known university professor, as the country’s prime minister.

Saied’s seizure of power initially appeared to win broad support among Tunisians amid an economic and public health crisis, but it later caused growing opposition, even from major domestic players who were initially supportive.

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