Morocco: One dead and one injured in new forest fire

TUNIS: After Tuesday’s 94.6% victory of a “yes” vote in the referendum on a new Constitution that would strengthen the president’s powers, Tunisia, the only democracy to have enjoyed since Summer The Arab Spring of 2011, is approaching its “hardening” of the political regime, which, according to experts, evokes “an installed dictatorship”.

What will happen immediately?

The new constitution, defended by President Kais Saied, must take effect immediately after the results of the referendum are announced. The first official figures fell on Tuesday but authorities have until the end of August to release final figures.

For analyst Youssef Cherif, “there will be no immediate change as Kais Saied will only (with the new Constitution, editor’s note) formalize a year-long situation”, when the president This was democratically elected in 2019, taking full power, arguably the country’s insurmountable.

Between now and the next election deadline, legislative elections are scheduled for December 17, thanks to the new Constitution, “Kais Saied will have more power than a pharaoh, more than a king of the Middle Ages or so the regal of Tunis (under the Ottomans),’ political scientist Hamadi Redissi told AFP.

According to him, the president “decided to take effect” and “go very quickly” to the legislative elections with “an exhausted opposition that will certainly boycott the next deadlines” as for the referendum. public opinion.

“He leads alone, the opposition is marginalized, the people are ignored,” Youssef Cherif confirmed.

Is it possible to say that we are heading towards a dictatorship?

“Tunisia is moving towards a system with fewer parliaments and more presidents,” Mr Cherif said.

Hamadi Redissi believes we can talk about an “arranged dictatorship”.

Some experts note that there are currently no restrictions on freedom of expression in Tunisia.

However, Youssef Cherif stressed that “security forces have been strengthened in recent months and their popularity as well as that of the military remains high”. That means, he said, that “protesters will have less freedom in the coming weeks”.

What can reduce Kais Saied’s motivation?

According to analysts, there is no guarantee that Tunisian civil society, which includes some 24,000 associations, parties and NGOs, and was the protagonist of the 2011 Revolution, can revolt.

“So far, the resilience of political actors has been balanced by the fragility of Tunisia’s democratic institutions (…) all it needs is a spark with the coup of the Tunisian government. Kais Saied let everything burn, like a forest fire that we can’t stop,” underlined Mr. Redissi.

The dire economic situation could be a hit because of the heartbreaking decisions for the middle and vulnerable classes that governments will have to make to get loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). ) scheduled for three years. Especially since “more and more Tunisians will blame their bad economic situation on the president when he is the sole owner on board,” noted Mr Cherif.

“But it will take time, maybe a year and a half, for the anger to peak,” Redissi predicted.

“There are still checks and balances,” said Mr Cherif, citing powerful union hub UGTT, co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, but “a lot of political parties and NGOs.” The government will become more and more noisy when the summer break is over.”

And the opposition?

Mr Cherif, especially the Islamist Ennahdha party, which has dominated all government coalitions for the past 10 years, said the opposition “is divided and discriminated against today”. But “the jubilation of the populace will be faced with the economic reality to which the various opposing forces will deliver their messages”.

Mr Redissi was less optimistic, saying he feared Mr Saied would seek to “suffocate” political parties, “like a plant that doesn’t need watering anymore”.

As proof of this, the political scientist points to a law prepared to govern the activities of associations, parties and NGOs.

He warned that even if Mr Saied assured him he would not disband “the parties, which are already very weak and in crisis, he would strangle them with draconian financial and organizational measures”. .

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