Hope for democracy: Tunisia court revokes president Saied's encroachment on judiciary
A court in the Tunisian capital Tunis halted Wednesday the implementation of Tunisian President Kais Saied's decision to sack judges in June.
Imad Al-Ghabri, the Administrative Court's spokesman, told local radio on Wednesday that the court had reviewed all the appeals against the president's June decision and decided to suspend it.
Forty-seven out of fifty-seven appeals by the sacked judges were upheld and included in the court's verdict to revoke the president’s move.
In June, President Kais Saied sacked 57 judges, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists - charges the Tunisian Judges’ Association said were mostly politically motivated.
Several International and Tunisian organisations, including the rights group Amnesty International, condemned Saied's decision.
In reaction to Saied’s decision, Tunisian judges launched a four-week long strike. Three of the sacked judges went on a weeks-long hunger strike before being admitted to intensive care.
Wednesday's decision has been hailed across the North African country as a glimpse of hope in a climate of growing authoritarianism under Saied’s rule.
🔴 On June 1, Saied granted himself the absolute power to fire judges summarily, and issued a decree sacking 57 judges. Today, the Administrative Tribunal of Tunis issued a "stay of execution" decision regarding 42 of them. Big blow for Saied.— Mohamed-Dhia Hammami - محمد ضياء الهمامي (@MedDhiaH) August 10, 2022
In June 2021, Saied ousted the government, suspended the parliament and assumed executive authority. He later dissolved the assembly after lawmakers held a session to challenge his measure.
Saied’s new constitution raised fears at home and abroad of pushing Tunisia to one man-rule regime under which Saied controls all powers including judicial powers.
Saied’s constitution, which passed in a referendum last month with a 30.5 per cent turnout, prohibits judges from striking and replaces the term “judicial power” with "judicial job".
The controversial draft also gives the president ultimate authority over parliament.
Many opposition parties say the referendum is not legitimate due to the low turnout.
On Tuesday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that Tunisia's "dream of self-government" was in danger, adding to previous American criticism of the president's expansion of powers.
"Across Africa, those who support democracy and freedom and the rule of law are battling the forces of autocracy, chaos and corruption," Austin said Tuesday at a US Africa Command ceremony.
"We can feel those headwinds in Tunisia, where people inspired the world with their demands for democracy", he added.