Tunisian president sacks dozens of judges as he consolidates rule
Kais Saied, whose opponents accuse him of a ‘coup’, has been ruling by decree since he set aside the 2014 constitution.
Tunisia’s president sacked 57 judges on Wednesday, accusing them of corruption and protecting “terrorists”, as he seeks to remodel the country’s political system after consolidating one-man rule.
In a televised address President Kais Saied said he had “given opportunity after opportunity and warning after warning to the judiciary to purify itself”. Hours later, the official gazette published a decree announcing the dismissals.
Among those sacked was Youssef Bouzaker, the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, which Saied dissolved in February.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Tunisia union to boycott President Saied’s national dialogue
Tunisia president unwilling to compromise as democracy fears grow
Lawmakers, rights groups urge US to condition aid to Tunisia
The council had acted as the main guarantor of judicial independence since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution and the move fuelled accusations that Saied was interfering in the judicial process.
Another prominent casualty of the purge was Bachir Akremi. Some political activists say the judge is too close to the Ennahda party and accuse him of stopping cases against it. Ennahda and Akremi both deny the allegations.
Last July, Saied dismissed the government and seized executive power, before setting aside the 2014 constitution and dismissing the country’s elected parliament.
Saied, who has also taken control of the once independent electoral commission, has said he will introduce a new constitution this month that put it to a referendum in July.
However, nearly all of Tunisia’s political parties have rejected the move along with the powerful UGTT labour union.
The UGTT said this week that public sector workers would go on strike on June 16, posing the biggest direct challenge to Saied’s power grab so far.