RIADH SIDAOUI “In Tunisia, democracy is a given”

In this interview, the politician Riadh Sidaoui returns to the last decisions taken by Tunisian President Kais Saïed to freeze the activity of Parliament and to dismiss the head of government, which he explained by the fact that the country was facing a imminent danger and that he wanted to put an end to the anarchy which reigned in Tunisia, in particular in Parliament.

Freedom: President Kais Saïed has taken the decisions to dismiss the head of government and to freeze the activities of Parliament for 30 days. what do you think they obey?
Riadh Sidaoui: President Kais Saïed is first and foremost a professor of constitutional law who was elected by 72% of Tunisian voters. So he has the rational legitimacy, as Max Weber said, of the elections. He has charismatic legitimacy too. It already has two legitimacies, then it is legal. What he has done is apply Article 80 of the Constitution which states that when the country faces imminent danger that could threaten the existence of the Tunisian state and Tunisian society, the president of the Republic has the right to activate article 80, therefore to have the power. Because the Tunisian political system is a parliamentary system. The President is admittedly directly elected by universal suffrage, but he has no powers. Its prerogatives are limited only to foreign affairs and defense. When he activates Article 80, the Tunisian system practically becomes a presidential system. And the President of the Republic will have all the powers for 30 days. So he immediately opened a front against corruption, which is an institution in Tunisia. Political corruption and that of businessmen are unified, because the politico-economic mechanism in Tunisia is managed by this corruption. Kais Saïed, the lawyer, wanted, at one point, to put an end to the anarchy that reigned in Tunisia, to the anarchy of Parliament. We are well aware that in this Parliament there have been even physical fights, not to mention the insults and the lack of debate because of the violence. This took place at the end of the popular demonstrations of July 25, of the third force in Tunisia, which are not to the credit of political parties but often young people who have been marginalized by all the measures of the savage IMF economy from 2011 to the present day. The demonstrators targeted the headquarters of Ennahdha, an Islamist party but whose practices are those of a right-wing party linked to global capitalism.

In fact, Ennahdha called these decisions a constitutional coup d’etat and called for restoring Parliament’s activity as soon as possible. Do not you think that these decisions were intended primarily to counter the influence of this party in the company?
The implementation of article 80 of the Constitution did not target this party.
Moreover, to date, the personalities arrested are not from Ennahdha, but from other political groups. The Ennahdha party itself is also divided over President Kais Saïed’s act. Samir Dilou, deputy and senior leader of the Ennahdha party and Abdelatif el-Mekki say they understand what President Saïed has done.
Remains Rached Ghannouchi, he has been the boss of Ennahdha for 40 years, but a dictator in his own party because he did not want to pass the torch to the younger generation. We are well aware that there are conflicts which have become visible today, especially with the youth of the movement which demands that Rached Ghannouchi leave the presidency of the party. It should also be known that Ennahdha is divided, and perhaps that Rached Ghannouchi is the victim of the act of President Kais Saïed but, is against the general situation, not against Ennahdha

After calling for a protest rally in front of the parliament which failed to drain many of its followers, don’t you think the Ennahdha party is losing momentum?
Absolutely, the rally was a general fiasco. Rached Ghannouchi called his supporters to a rally in front of the Parliament, but there were only a few dozen no more and were far outnumbered than the supporters of Kais Saïed and his supporters of “the revolution within the revolution”, as I put it. notes.
This is to use Régis Debray’s expression. So he called on the masses of his movement to support him, but they did not come. Then he gave two interviews to the “Corriere de la Sierra” and to Agence France Presse saying that tens of thousands of people are mobilized to defend democracy, but it should not be done for the moment. But, if I did not return to the Presidency of Parliament, there would be huge demonstrations against President Saïed. In addition, he uses the same method of blackmail by Erdogan against Europe, saying that it will continue this way in Tunisia, you Europeans, you are going to have 500,000


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