‘Yes’ vote wins Tunisia landslide, but critics question support | Politics News

The opposition says the low turnout for the constitutional referendum reveals President Kais Saied’s weak spot.

Tunis, Tunisia – Outcomes present that Tunisians have voted to approve a brand new structure proposed by President Kais Saied, however the nation’s opposition says the low turnout of solely about 30 p.c reveals the president’s weak spot and the illegitimacy of the method.

In accordance with preliminary outcomes introduced by the Tunisian Impartial Greater Election Authority (ISIE) on Tuesday night, 94.6 p.c of voters authorized the constitution.

A monthlong attraction course of will now be held earlier than the ultimate result’s introduced on the August finish.

The low turnout got here amid a boycott marketing campaign from the Tunisian opposition, which says the brand new structure will probably lead Tunisia again to one-man rule, because it modifications the nation from a hybrid parliamentary system to a hyper-presidential one, and removes various checks and balances.

Farouk Bouasker, the pinnacle of the ISIE, steered away from discussing voter turnout after many members of the opposition emphasised that almost all of Tunisians not solely didn’t vote for Saied, however additionally they didn’t have interaction in his referendum course of.

Farouk Bouasker, President of the Independent High Authority for Elections, speaks during the announcement of the preliminary results of a referendum on a new constitution in Tunis,
ISIE President Farouk Bouasker publicizes the preliminary outcomes of the referendum on a brand new structure in Tunis, Tunisia, July 26, 2022 [Tarek Amara/Reuters]

Saied, who mentioned on Monday that folks had been free to skip the referendum, insisted the brand new doc will hold the freedoms enshrined within the 2014 iteration of the structure, including his modifications are essential to weaken a “corrupt” political elite.

The populist, who got here into energy in 2019, retains a powerful help base from Tunisians uninterested in the financial and political crises which have dominated the nation for the reason that 2011 revolution, however has misplaced help since he suspended parliament and dissolved the federal government final July.

Saied will proceed to have the ability to rule by decree till parliamentary elections are held in December.

Considerations and questions

In a information convention, Nejib Chebbi, a number one member of the opposition Nationwide Salvation Entrance, mentioned low turnout “de-legitimises the general course of”.

His feedback had been echoed by the founding father of the US-based Middle for Analysis of Islam and Democracy, Radwan Masmoudi.

“You may’t approve or undertake a brand new structure with lower than 30 p.c of the voters,” he advised Al Jazeera. “In actuality, the numbers are far smaller, however the ISIE was beneath his [Saied’s] management, particularly within the inside of the nation, and rigged the leads to his favour as was anticipated.”

Questions have abounded about how correct the outcomes and the official turnout are, significantly as few election observers have been current.

Internationally, the response to the referendum has been muted.

US Division of State spokesman Ned Worth mentioned Washington was conscious of considerations amongst civil society organisations and politicians concerning the lack of an “inclusive and clear course of and the restricted scope for real public debate through the drafting of the brand new structure”.

He added: “We additionally word considerations that the brand new structure contains weakened checks and balances that would compromise the safety of human rights and elementary freedoms.”

Assist for Saied

Polls have repeatedly proven that regardless of a pointy drop in Saied’s approval score, he would nonetheless be the most well-liked presidential candidate if an election had been to be referred to as.

“It’s not that Saied is common it’s simply that he’s politically stronger than the others,” political writer Amine Snoussi advised Al Jazeera. “Meaning that there’s a political house for different actors to put in and revenue from.”

The voters Al Jazeera spoke to at polling stations earlier than the rely mentioned their largest concern was the way forward for their kids or grandchildren. Many have excessive expectations, and so they hope that Saied will make drastic modifications to the nation.

However Snoussi fears what would possibly occur now that Saied has all of the powers of the state in his fingers.

“I feel he’s going to rule simply as he dominated for the final yr, however now he has the legislation with him, now he has each instrument he wants to put in an authoritarian regime,” he defined.

Police arrest leading gay activist in crackdown on Tunisia rally | Protests News

Tunis, Tunisia – Police have arrested a number one homosexual rights campaigner in a violent pushback in opposition to younger folks throughout a rally in opposition to the upcoming referendum on the Tunisian president’s newly proposed structure.

Police violently shoved protesters marching on Friday in a vocal however peaceable demonstration as they headed in direction of the Ministry of Inside within the centre of Tunis to reveal in opposition to President Kais Saied’s newly-penned structure and demand an finish to the referendum course of.

Al Jazeera witnessed beatings and different violent abuses of protesters, and likewise noticed police use pepper spray.

President Saied printed his new draft structure on the finish of final month, forward of a referendum scheduled for July 25 the place Tunisians will vote to just accept or reject the doc.

July 25 marks a 12 months since Saied sacked Tunisia’s prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed government authority, citing a nationwide emergency in a transfer critics have known as a coup.

Two months later he introduced he would rule by decree, and dismantled most of the nation’s democratic state establishments together with the Superior Judicial Council. In June, he fired dozens of judges accusing them of corruption and “terrorism”, additional consolidating his energy.

Scuffles between protesters and police in Tunis
The police scuffled with protesters who accuse President Kais Saied of an influence seize and concern the brand new structure will result in dictatorship [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

Saied says he has applied a interval of remarkable measures to save lots of the nation from an imminent hazard however his critics say his actions have solely exacerbated the political and financial crises going through Tunisians who’re struggling amid excessive inflation and unemployment, and declining public companies.

‘I’m so indignant’

 

On Friday, police launched a variety of aggressive prices in opposition to what was a comparatively small though vocal group of protesters.

As they charged in opposition to protesters they attacked chief of the left wing Entrance Widespread Hama Hemami, a feminine journalist was slapped whereas attempting to {photograph} police arresting a protester and Al Jazeera noticed many individuals struggling the painful results of gasoline and pepper spray.

Police dragged protesters to the bottom as they arrested them, and held them in stress holds as they marched a few of them away.

Amongst these arrested was a number one LGBTQI+ activist Saif Ayadi. Avocats sans Frontiers advised Al Jazeera he’s presently being held at Gorjani detention centre however ASF say they’re involved for his security as he has beforehand been arrested and overwhelmed by police.

Riot police pushed again the gang with their shields earlier than fellow officers charged forcefully in opposition to the gang chasing protesters down facet streets.

Khalil Ayari, a 23 12 months outdated nursing pupil, advised Al Jazeera: “I noticed 10 folks arrested, and (they) have been simply protesting peacefully. I noticed them assault a woman, they have been pulling her arm so laborious I may see the bruises rising.”

Ayari stated he took to the streets as a result of he was livid on the president’s actions.

“I’m so indignant,” he stated. “I learn the structure, it’s solely in regards to the president, it’s all for him, he’s going to make all the selections and take every little thing.”

He added: “After at the moment I not longer really feel secure in Tunisia.”

Underneath the new constitution, Saied would be capable to proceed to rule by decree till a brand new parliament is shaped after an election set for December. He would even have final authority over the federal government and judiciary, with the federal government answering to the president and to not parliament.

Protesters and police jostle at barriers erected in Tunis with an officer spraying tear gas into their faces
A Tunisian policeman sprays tear gasoline at a protester attempting to take away metallic obstacles throughout Friday’s protest in opposition to the proposed new structure [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

The face of Ayla Salemi, who works in civil society, was shiny purple after being caught within the pepper spray.

“The police have been shouting and insisting that we go house, then they charged at us,” she advised Al Jazeera. “They battered the feminine activist Waen Nawal with a stick and so they used pepper spray on me and others.”

The 35-year-old tried to catch her breath. “I used to be in opposition to what occurred final 12 months within the parliament, however I’m additionally in opposition to this president, issues are a lot worse now than they have been earlier than.”

For a lot of younger folks, Saied’s actions are a betrayal.

“We’re in opposition to Saied’s structure as a result of it will convey us to dictatorship, we can not tolerate this; we’re right here to say no!” 23-year-old regulation pupil Malak Ben Amane advised Al Jazeera.

Half manner by means of the interview a policeman got here to berate Ben Amane, however she stood coolly and refused to maneuver. Because the officer moved away she stated: “This violence will not be uncommon it occurs every single day, this can be a police state.”

Till Friday, protests in opposition to the president had principally concerned middle-aged folks, however the younger are actually popping out in opposition to him too.

“Sure, we’re depressed, however we’re right here to defend our revolution and our democracy, so I’ll march once more tomorrow,” Ben Amane stated.