Clashes between Tunisian police, protesters over referendum
Clashes erupt between police and demonstrators protesting in Tunis against President Kais Saied's referendum scheduled for next July.
Clashes erupted between the police and about 100 demonstrators protesting in Tunis, today, Saturday, against the constitutional referendum, which President Kais Saied intends to organize in July, after a year of its procedures.
The demonstrators were stopped by police as they sought to reach the headquarters of the election commission, which President Saied removed last month.
Some at the protest in Tunis, organized by five small political parties, held up placards against the President's suggestion.
"The police... sprayed gas in our faces and attacked us," said Hamma Hammami, head of the Tunisian Workers' Party.
On July 25, Saied dismissed the cabinet and suspended parliament, which he later dissolved. He has outlined plans for a referendum next month on a replacement for the 2014 constitution, which cemented a combined parliamentary-presidential system prone to gridlock and cronyism.
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However, the new constitution, which is to be put to the public in a simple (yes/no) vote, has not yet been published.
Saied delegated authority to appoint three of the seven members of the electoral commission, including the president, on April 22.
Then, this month, he appointed former commission member Farouk Bouasker to replace commission chief Nabil Baffoun.
Saturday also marked the beginning of a national dialogue hosted by Saied but boycotted by opponents, including the powerful UGTT labor union, because it excludes significant civil society players and political parties.
Other Tunisians, however, embrace his actions against a system that they believe has accomplished only a little in the decade following the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
In the same context, Al Mayadeen correspondent in Tunisia reported that the Tunisian Judges' Association announced a one-week strike in all facilities, starting Monday.