Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday appointed new members of the election commission, to be headed by Farouk Bouasker, the official gazette said, entrenching his one-man rule and casting doubt on electoral integrity.
Saied said last month he would replace most election commission members, seizing control of one of the last independent bodies in the North Africa country.
Saied, who asserts his actions were legal and needed to save Tunisia from a crisis, is rewriting the democratic constitution introduced after the 2011 revolution and says he will put it to a referendum in July.
Saied had already dismissed parliament and taken control of the judiciary after assuming executive authority last summer, saying he could rule by decree in what his opponents denounce as a coup.
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Bouasker, head of the new election commission, served as vice president of the previous electoral body.
Aroussi Mansri and Sami Ben Slama, officials in previous commissions, were also appointed to the new body.
Sami Ben Slama has expressed in recent months his support for Saied’s moves. He is a fierce critic of the Islamist Ennahda party, a major rival of Saied.
The new seven-member panel includes three judges and an information technology specialist.
The commission was elected by parliament after 2011.
In recent months Saied has reiterated that the commission is not independent, even though he won the presidential elections in 2019 under its supervision.
The dissolved commission’s head Nabil Baffoun had angered Saied by criticising his plans to hold a referendum and a parliamentary election later, saying such votes could only happen within the framework of the existing constitution.