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HomeGeopolitical CompassNile Valley & N.AfricaThe State of Exception in Tunisia: Background, Significance and Prospects

The State of Exception in Tunisia: Background, Significance and Prospects

Author: Al Jazeera Centre for Studies

Affiliation: Al Jazeera Centre for Studies

Organization/Publisher: Al Jazeera Centre for Studies

Date/Place: August, 2021/Doha, Qatar

Type of Literature: Policy Brief (translation)

Number of pages: 4

Link:https://studies.aljazeera.net/en/policy-briefs/state-exception-tunisia-background-significance-and-prospects

Keywords: Tunisia, State of Exception, Constitutional Order, Military, Parliament.

Brief:

This policy brief analyses the state of exception announced by Tunisian President Kais Saied, on 25th July 2021, by appealing to emergency powers along with its background and its future scenarios. Under the claim of “imminent danger”, Saied ‘dissolved’ Prime Minister Hichem  Mechichi’s government, suspended the parliament, elevated parliamentarian’s immunity, and claimed prosecutorial powers to himself. Due to the instability and fragmentation of the parliament and the political status in the country, the government was incapable of managing the deteriorating situation in Tunisia. While the conflict between the president and, on the other hand, the parliament and the prime minister had been increasing, there was no constitutional authority, namely the constitutional court, formed yet. However, Saied’s measures have been domestically received in three different views. The first group has supported Saied’s measures since they are considered as ‘necessary and constitutional’. The second, which represents various political parties, civil society organizations, and the Tunisian General Labour Union has viewed these measures as necessary, however, they have demanded some guarantees to restore the democratic constitutional order. The third group has declared these emergency measures as a coup against elected entities and democracy and has called for instant conclusion of these measures. Regarding external reaction, most regional and international actors have showed concern for Saied’s measures and their future ramifications on democracy in Tunisia. However, future scenarios could evolve in three paths. The first scenario is the failure of Saied’s move if he could not timely manage the issue which would lead to a more conciliatory arrangement such as a consensus government. Due to the domestic and foreign support of this option, it could be the most probable path. The second scenario is the continuity in the coup path in gradual expansion of Saied’s exceptional powers and hinder democratic development in Tunisia. Such a scenario could be pushed for by specific regional actors. The third scenario is the increase of popular resistance against the coup that may lead to violence and chaos or that could wreck the coup and restore the previous status quo. However, this scenario is not applicable because of the withdrawal of Ennahda from the scene and the difficulty of public mobilization; unless if these measures continue to prompt more opposition against Saied that would topple the whole existing order.  

By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant

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