Tunisia expels Venice Commission members over report on constitutional referendum

Tunisia expels Venice Commission members over report on constitutional referendum

The Tunisian President Kais Saied Monday expelled members of the Venice Commission after the advisory body of the Council of Europe issued Friday a report criticizing the leader’s plans to hold a referendum on a new constitution.

The report branded urgent opinion posits that it was unrealistic to hold a credible referendum in the absence of clear and pre-established rules.

The opinion of the panel of experts of the human rights body Council of Europe adds that changing the electoral law should be preceded by a “broad consultation of political forces and civil society” in order to reach a consensus.

Saied has initiated efforts for the constitutional change after he seized all major powers since July 25. The process has sidelined political parties.

In response to the Venice Commission, Saied threatened to withdraw Tunisia’s membership and slammed the panel for interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

“Who do they think they are? Are they nostalgic for the Jules Ferry era? They say they want to teach us… They have nothing to teach us. If they want to interfere in our affairs, let them stay at home, we don’t need their support and help. If a member of this commission is in Tunisia, let him leave immediately!” he offered.

“I take this opportunity to recall that there is no question of interfering in our internal affairs as this commission, known as the Venice Commission, does. It must deal with its gondolas and the Tunisian people cannot be led by those who lead the gondolas. Our sovereignty is not to be negotiated,” he added.

The referendum is scheduled for July 25. The country’s powerful labor union refused to take part in a limited dialogue to prepare the referendum. Deans of law colleges of various universities of the North African country have also turned down invitations to take part in the drafting of a new constitution.

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