HomeMiddle EastTunisia judges protest after president dissolves watchdog

Tunisia judges protest after president dissolves watchdog

TUNIS: More than 200 judges and lawyers in black robes protested Thursday outside the main court in the Tunisian capital after President Kais Saied vowed to scrap a key judicial watchdog.
Judges have been on strike since Wednesday in the North African country, the birthplace of the 2011 Arab uprisings, in protest at Saied’s weekend move to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council (CSM) months after a July power grab.
At the rally in central Tunis on Thursday, police looked on as protesters chanted “restore the CSM” and “the people want an independent judiciary”
Some held signs calling Saied’s move “a violation of rights and freedoms” and saying “there is no democracy without an independent judiciary.”
Saied had long accused the CSM of blocking politically sensitive investigations and being influenced by his nemesis, the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party.
Announcing he would dissolve it, he said he had no intention of interfering with the judiciary, but rights groups and world powers have called it a step backwards in a country seen as the sole — if dysfunctional — democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings.
Some lawyers who took part in the rally have publicly criticized Saied’s policies in the past.
On Wednesday, a group of 45 civil society groups had issued a statement rejecting “any interference by the executive authority in the judiciary’s work.”
They said the CSM, despite its “shortcomings,” was the only institution guaranteeing the judiciary’s independence.
Saied’s move on July 25 to sack the government and suspend parliament was welcomed by many Tunisians tired of rule by political parties seen as corrupt and self-serving.
But his critics have accused him of pushing Tunisia down a slippery slope back to autocracy.

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