Tunisia: President dissolves municipal councils

Tunisia: President dissolves municipal councils

Tunisian President Kais Saied announced the dissolution of municipal councils, months before the municipal elections, further dismantling the systems of government developed after the 2011 revolution that brought democracy.

“We will discuss a decree to dissolve municipalities and replace them by special councils,” he said in a video of a cabinet meeting that was posted online.

The municipal councils will be replaced by “special councils” to be made up of civil servants and placed under the supervision of the governor of each region.

The new councils will also be elected, but under new rules that he will draft, he said. He has previously called the existing councils “states within a state” and said they were “not neutral”.

The new councils will be elected by July under new voting rules.

The mandates of the 350 mayors and municipal councilors currently in place are due to expire at the end of April, and elections were theoretically scheduled to follow.

In the 2018 local elections, a third of municipal councils came under the control of Ennahda, an Islamist party that has been the most vocal critic of Saied.

Elected municipal councils were introduced after the 2014 constitution called for decentralization – a constitution that Saied has replaced with one he wrote himself and passed last year in a referendum with low turnout.

The President also called for the first session of the new legislature to be held on March 13 following December 17, 2022 parliament elections.

The new house is made of 154 lawmakers following an unpopular revision of the Constitution.
The country held on December 17 snap legislatives after President Saied froze and dissolved the parliament as he seized all major powers on July 25, 2021.

The elections were boycotted by the opposition and recorded the lowest turnout in the history of the North African country. The independent electoral body put the turnout at 11 per cent.

The election of the Speaker of the Parliament and the two vice-presidents will be done by a secret vote. The candidate for the presidency of the Parliament must obtain the absolute majority of votes, according to Article 7 of the presidential decree.

Tunisia has been embroiled in what critics of Saied call dictatorship. Several high-profile critics of the President, have been arrested. They include journalists, politicians, and members of the country’s largest political party, Ennahdha.

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