Tunisian judges launched a week-long strike in protest at President Kais Saied’s “interference” in the judiciary, days after he sacked 57 of their colleagues.
Saied — who suspended parliament in a power grab last July — issued a new decree last week extending his control over the judiciary, his latest move against the only democratic system to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings.
On Saturday, four judges’ unions announced a nationwide court strike, strongly condemning the president’s “continued interference in the judiciary”.
They accused Saied of laying off judges “without the slightest recourse to disciplinary procedures” in an affront to the constitution. The president had at an earlier cabinet meeting accused unnamed judges of corruption, stalling “terrorism” cases, sexual harassment, collusion with political parties and obstruction of justice.
Mourad Massoudi, head of the Young Judges’ Union, said that “the strike started today at all courts across the country, and appears to have been widely observed”.
Courts will stay open for terrorism cases. Saied on July 25 last year sacked the government and suspended parliament, later dissolving the assembly, seizing control of the judiciary and moving to rule by decree.
Many Tunisians initially welcomed his assault on an often deadlocked political system seen as corrupt and ineffective, but opponents have accused him of sweeping away Tunisia’s hard-won democratic institutions. Saied has inveighed against official corruption and repeated called for a total overhaul of the country’s political system.
He plans to hold a referendum on a new constitution — yet to be published — on the anniversary of his power grab.—AFP