Tunisia President dismisses 57 judges
Tunisia’s president fired 57 judges on Wednesday, accusing them of corruption and supporting “terrorists,” as he strives to reform the country’s democratic system following the consolidation of one-man rule.
President Kais Saied said in a televised address that he has “given the judiciary opportunity after opportunity and warning after warning to purify itself.” A decree notifying the dismissals was issued in the official gazette a few hours later.
Youssef Bouzaker, the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, which Saied dissolved in February, was among those fired.
Since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, the council had served as the main guarantor of judicial independence, and the move fueled accusations that Saied was interfering with the judicial process.
Bachir Akremi was another prominent victim of the purge. Some political activists claim that the judge is too close to the Ennahda party and has stopped cases against it. Both Ennahda and Akremi deny the allegations.
Saied deposed the government and seized executive power in July, before abandoning the 2014 constitution and dismissing the country’s elected parliament.
Since then, he has ruled by decree, claiming that he needed to act to save Tunisia from crisis. After years of economic stagnation, political paralysis, and corruption, his moves appeared to win public support at first, but public anger is growing as inflation and unemployment rise, and public services deteriorate.
Saied, who has also taken control of the once-independent electoral commission, has stated that a new constitution will be introduced this month and put to a referendum in July.
However, nearly all of Tunisia’s political parties, as well as the powerful UGTT labor union, have rejected the move.
The UGTT announced this week that public sector workers would strike on June 16, posing the most direct challenge to Saied’s power grab to date.