Tunisian president, Kais Saied fires 57 judges, imposes strict rule on judiciary
Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied fired 57 judges on Wednesday, June 1 accusing them of corruption and supporting terrorists, as he strives to reform the country’s democratic system following the consolidation of one-man rule.
Saied said in a televised address that he has “given the judiciary opportunity after opportunity and warning after warning to purify itself.” A decree notifying the dismissals was issued in the official gazette a few hours later.
Youssef Bouzaker, the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, which Saied abolished in February, was among those fired.
Since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, the council has served as the key guarantor of judicial independence, and Saied’s move fueled charges that he was interfering in the judicial process.
Bachir Akremi was another noteworthy victim of the purge. Some political activists accuse the judge of being too close to the Ennahda party and of intervening in cases brought against it. Both Ennahda and Akremi dispute the accusations.
Saied deposed the government and seized executive power in July, before throwing out the country’s 2014 constitution and dismissing the elected parliament.
Since then, he has ruled by decree, claiming that he needed to act to save Tunisia from a crisis. After years of economic stagnation, political paralysis, and corruption, his actions appeared to win public support at first, but public outrage is growing as inflation and unemployment rise, and public services deteriorate.
Saied, who also controls the once-independent electoral commission, has said that a new constitution will be introduced this month and submitted to a referendum in July.
However, practically all of Tunisia’s political groups, as well as the powerful UGTT labour union, have spoken out against the plan.
The UGTT announced this week that public sector employees will go on strike on June 16, posing the most direct challenge yet to Saied’s power grab.