Tunisian President Kais Saied declared on Wednesday he will rule by decree and ignore parts of the constitution as he prepares to change the political system, prompting immediate opposition from rivals.
Saied has held nearly total power since 25 July when he sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority, citing a national emergency in a move his foes called a coup.
His intervention has undermined the democratic gains of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that ended autocratic rule and triggered the Arab Spring, despite Saied’s pledges to uphold the freedoms won a decade ago.
As the weeks have passed, he has come under growing pressure from Tunisian political players and Western donors to name a prime minister and explain how he intends to move past the crisis.
The new measures announced on Wednesday go far beyond the steps he took in July, writing into the official gazette rules that transform Tunisia’s political system to give the president almost unlimited power.
Rules published in the official gazette allow him to issue “legislative texts” by decree, appoint the Cabinet and set its policy direction and basic decisions without interference.
The elected parliament, which he suspended in July using a highly contentious reading of the constitution, will not only remain frozen but its members will stop being paid their salaries. They will still be stripped of immunity from prosecution.
Saied did not put any time limit on his seizure of power, but said he would appoint a committee to help draft amendments to the 2014 constitution and establish “a true democracy in which the people are truly sovereign”.