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Tunisia's UGTT union: President's proposed constitution threatens democracy

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)
This picture shows a plaque bearing the logo of Tunisia's powerful General Labor Union (UGTT) in the capital Tunis.

Tunisia's powerful General Labor Union (UGTT) has stood up against President Kais Saied’s bid to overhaul the constitution in his own favor, saying it poses a threat to democracy.

In a statement on Saturday, the union said the proposed draft of the constitution includes broad powers for Tunisia's president and a reduced role for other bodies and institutions, which could threaten democracy.

The country is expected to vote on the new constitution in a referendum on July 25.

Saied assumed power last year, dismissing the country’s constitution so he can rule by decree. The 2014 constitution was the result of intense negotiations among political parties and civil society bodies.

The president has also dissolved the elected parliament and dismissed scores of judges.

Under the proposed new constitution, the government would answer to the president and not to parliament though the chamber could withdraw confidence from the government with a two-thirds majority.

Saied would also be allowed to present draft laws and have sole responsibility for proposing treaties and drafting state budgets.

The UGTT says the proposed constitution preserve chapters related to freedoms and rights, but that some restrictions and the absence of guarantees could threaten these freedoms and rights and offer an opportunity to violate them.

The Tunisian public have held several thousands-strong demonstrations across the country to show its opposition to the president’s proposed constitution.

Following a meeting of the administrative bureau of the UGTT in Hammamet, Noureddine Taboui, the union's secretary-general, announced its decision to grant "freedom of choice" to its affiliates on the day of the referendum.


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