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Tunisian president to replace top judicial body

February 10, 2022

Judges and lawyers demonstrated outside the Palace of Justice in Tunis, protesting President Kais Saied's plan. The legal body, one of the few not under the president's control, has said it's not going anywhere.

Judges and lawyers holding up signs outside the Palace of Justice to protest President of Tunisia, Kais Saied's decision to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council
Judges and lawyers outside Tunis' Palace of Justice urged the president to respect the independence of the judiciaryImage: Yassine Gaidi /AA/picture alliance

Tunisian President Kais Saied said on Thursday that he would issue a decree effectively dissolving the Superior Council of the Judiciary.

"Let me be clear: the council will be dissolved and replaced by another one, by decree," Saied said.

The Superior Council of the Judiciary is Tunisia's main legal body overseeing judges and one of the last remaining institutions working independently of Saied.

The council rejected the presidential decree saying the "current structure is the only representative of the judiciary."

Also on Thursday, more than 200 judges and lawyers in black robes protested outside Tunis' Palace of Justice against Saied's interference in the judiciary.

Some held signs stating: "There is no democracy without an independent judiciary."

Judges locked out of their offices

Saied already indicated that he was planning to dissolve the council over the weekend, and police prevented anyone from entering its offices on Monday.

Judges have been on strike since Wednesday in protest against the move.

Tunisia analyst Mariam Salehi speaks to DW

The disintegration of the Superior Council of the Judiciary is just the latest move by Saied to tighten his grip on power.

Last July, he plunged Tunisia into a constitutional crisis when he suspended the country's parliament, dismissed the sitting prime minister and granted himself executive powers.

He insisted that the "exceptional measures" were intended to save Tunisia from collapse.

Supporters welcomed his moves, describing Tunisia's whole political system as corrupt.

Critics say he is leading the country toward authoritarian rule.

lo/sms (AFP, Reuters)