Tunisia president Kais Saied rejects ‘interference’ after Western concerns about democracy

Tunisian President Saied said on Friday he rejected “any form of foreign interference,” in comments after several Western countries raised concerns over Tunisia’s democracy amid his increasing political control of the country.

A year after Saied moved to shut down the elected parliament and start ruling by decree, he introduced a new constitution this week that gives him far more powers and that was endorsed in a referendum on Monday.

In a meeting with his foreign minister, Saied affirmed “the independence of the national decision and his rejection of any form of interference in national affairs,” a statement on the presidential Facebook page said.

The “only voice is the voice of the people,” he added.

Several Western nations have expressed concern over political developments in Tunisia, notably the United States.

“Tunisia has experienced an alarming erosion of democratic norms over the past year and reversed many of the Tunisian people’s hard-won gains since 2011,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Thursday, referring to the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy.

The European Union on Wednesday said a broad consensus among political forces including political parties and civil society was essential to preserve democracy, although it did not directly address express any concerns over Saied’s new constitution or how it was passed.

Britain said it noted concerns and that “we also note the low level of participation and concerns regarding the lack of an inclusive and transparent process.”

Saied has said his moves were legal and were needed to save Tunisia from years of stagnation. The electoral commission, whose board he replaced this year, has said the referendum was fair.

Opposition parties in Tunisia, who say Saied’s actions are tantamount to a coup and will return the country to autocracy, have questioned whether the official turnout figure of 30.5 percent in Monday’s vote was inflated, and have said there were procedural abuses and data anomalies.


Arab Observer

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