Tunisian President promises “dialogue” on political system

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Tunisian President Kais Saied delivers a speech during the government swearing-in ceremony at Carthage Palace outside the capital Tunis, Tunisia, February 27, 2020. Fethi Belaid / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo

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TUNIS, October 21 (Reuters) – The Tunisian president on Tuesday announced he would launch a “national dialogue” on changing the electoral law and political system, but gave no details on how he would allay concerns international organizations regarding its almost total seizure of power.

President Kais Saied assumed executive power in July, then rejected most of the constitution last month. Critics have called the measures a coup, and the European Union this week joined other donors in calling for a restoration of democratic order.

In a speech posted on the presidential Facebook page, Saied said the dialogue would include the country’s youth, but kept a provocative tone.

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He said the talks would not include “those who stole people’s money and traitors.” He also criticized what he called foreign interference, telling world powers to “return contraband Tunisian money to European and international banks”.

Critics say his moves cast doubt on the democratic gains of the 2011 Tunisian revolution. But his supporters have welcomed the changes, saying they have taken over the revolution from a corrupt and entrenched elite.

Saied announced a new government this month but gave no indication he was ready to relinquish control. Under the rules announced in September, the new cabinet ultimately reports to him rather than to the new prime minister, Najla Bouden.

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Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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