Tunisian opposition to boycott December elections, decry ‘coup’
Opposition accuses President Kais Saied of attempting to return Tunisia to one-man rule.
The National Salvation Front, a body representing the main parties in Tunisia’s opposition, including Ennahdha, has announced that it will boycott December elections to replace a parliament dissolved by President Kais Saied.
Saied called the December vote after he suspended the Ennahdha-dominated assembly and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi in July 2021, before later pushing through a new constitution that critics say enshrines one-man rule.
“The National Salvation Front has definitively decided to boycott the upcoming elections,” said Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, the head of the alliance, which is made up of parties and movements opposed to Saied.
“The elections will be held under the supervision of a body that is not neutral and is loyal to the ruling authority,” Chebbi said.
He added that the boycott was a response to an electoral law written “by Saied alone”, which was part of a “coup against constitutional legitimacy”.
The National Salvation Front is a major opposition coalition consisting of Ennahdha and four other parties – the Heart of Tunisia party, the Dignity Coalition, the Movement party and Al-Amal party.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for December 17, amid a deep political crisis in the North African nation, and worsening economic conditions.
At the end of July, a new constitution proposed by Saied was passed, with 94.6 percent of voters saying “yes”.
However, civil society groups have questioned the referendum results, demanding the election authority publish the raw vote data to see if the process was valid – and some are even asking for a recount.
Turnout, which was officially around 31 percent, was also low, amid an opposition boycott and general apathy.
The new constitution changes the country from a hybrid parliamentary system to a hyper-presidential one, removing a number of checks and balances.
Saied, however, still retains support from some Tunisians, who see him as a bulwark against political elites they blame for the country’s poor economic conditions over the decade since a 2011 revolution overthrew former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.