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Request to Expand PM’s Powers Sparks Political Dispute in Tunisia

Request to Expand PM’s Powers Sparks Political Dispute in Tunisia

Wednesday, 25 March, 2020 - 11:00
Tunisia's Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during a handover ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia February 28, 2020. (Reuters)
Tunis - Kamal Ben Younes

A new power struggle erupted in Tunisia between President Kais Saeid, parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi and Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh over the resubmission of a bill aimed at expanding the powers of the PM at the expense of the legislature.

Parliament is expected to hold a historic session on Thursday to discuss the dispute that has sparked huge debate in the country.

Differences had emerged over the president’s decision to order the military to deploy to the streets, declare a state of emergency over the new coronavirus outbreak and implementation of Article 80 of the constitution.

The article can only be implemented when the country is confronted with “imminent danger” and therefore demands the execution of extraordinary measures, explained some lawmakers.

Disputes also emerged between lawmakers and the PM over a government draft-law that would expand its jurisdiction and allow it to “temporarily” ratify laws without resorting to parliament.

Fakhfakh had requested that parliament “delegate its legislative powers to him for a period of two months” in line with Article 70 of the constitution.

The request was rejected by several MPs, including Al-Sohbi Atiq, of the Ennahda party. They said the move infringes on the country’s political system as outlined in the constitution.

In contrast, constitutional expert Naufal Saeed advocated the PM’s request, saying it does not mean that he was seeking a change in Tunisia’s political system or limiting the role of the parliament.

He stressed that this step, instead, supports the effectiveness of state institutions.

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