Tunisians vote on a highly controversial Constitution

Tunisians are voting in a referendum on Monday to choose whether or not to ratify a controversial new Constitution chosen by the Head of State, Kais Saied. The draft constitution gives vast powers to the president and breaks with that of 2014.

Polling stations opened on Monday to accommodate thousands of Tunisians who will have to vote to accept or reject drastic changes to the country’s constitution.

According to observers, this Constitution is a threat to the young Tunisian democracy, and should allow Kais Saied to reign supreme over the country as before 2011. The election could change everything in the country which could revert to a dictatorial regime.

And yet, there is a good chance that this new version of the Constitution will pass, taking advantage of the low turnout and ignorance of the risks. According to the Isie electoral authority, 9,296,064 Tunisians have registered to participate in this referendum.

The participation rate of the 356,291 Tunisians abroad is low, according to Farouk Bouasker, the president of Isie, who estimated it at between 4 to 6%.

The president accompanied by his wife Ichraf Chebil after having voted in the bourgeois district of Cité Ennasr, called on the Tunisian people to go to the polls to “establish a new Republic based on true freedom, true justice and national dignity”.

This Constitution has caused a lot of ink to flow, particularly among its main drafter, Sadok Belaïd, the jurist who was commissioned by Kais Saied to draw up the new Constitution. The latter indicated that the final text which was published by the president was in no way similar to the one he submitted to him.

He affirmed that his text has been modified and that he devotes full powers to the president, and warned of the possibility that he is opening “the way to a dictatorial regime”.

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