Tunisia: President Saied announces establishment of ''national dialogue"

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Tunisian president, Kais Saied has announced the establishment of a "national dialogue" expected for months but from which will be excluded all political parties that he considers responsible for the political and economic crisis shaking the country.

In an address on Sunday evening for the Muslim festival of Eid marking the end of Ramadan, Mr. Saied said that a commission would "manage the national dialogue", a measure repeatedly called for by the G7 countries and the European Union since he assumed full powers on July 25, 2021.

Four organizations will participate: the trade union UGTT, the employers' organization UTICA, the Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH) and the National Bar Association.

This is the Quartet that had received in 2015 the Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to the democratic transition in Tunisia, cradle of the Arab Spring and considered at the time as the only democracy in the Arab world.

Since the summer of 2021, President Saied, who was democratically elected at the end of 2019, has seized all powers and is ruling the country by decree. At the end of March, he dissolved the parliament, which had been dominated for 10 years by coalitions led by the Islamist-inspired party Ennahdha, his bête noire.

In recent weeks, he has also changed the composition of the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, which governs the judicial system, and of the high electoral authority Isie.

On Sunday, the head of the powerful UGTT, Noureddine Taboubi, made an insistent appeal to Mr. Saied to launch the national dialogue. This is "probably the last chance to bring together the national forces" and avoid "a dismantling of the state and a financial and economic collapse" of the country, Taboubi argued.

In his speech, the president ruled out any participation in this dialogue of "those who have sabotaged, starved and abused the people", implying the parties like Ennahdha have denounced "a coup" of Mr. Saied.

In a roadmap intended to bring the country out of the political crisis, Mr. Saied has scheduled a referendum on constitutional amendments for July 25, before a legislative session on December 17. 

According to Mr. Saied, the committee of experts charged with preparing a constitution for "a new Republic" will soon complete its work.

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