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Tunisian President Plans to Suspend Constitution, Adviser Says 


Tunisian President Kais Saied, right, and Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah pose for a photo in Tunis, Tunisia, Sept. 9, 2021.

Tunisian President Kais Saied plans to suspend the constitution and may offer changes to the political system through a referendum, one of his advisers told Reuters on Thursday.

Saied seized governing powers, dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament in July in moves his political foes called a coup, but he has not yet appointed a new government or made any broader declaration of his long-term plans.

"This system cannot continue ... changing the system means changing the constitution through a referendum, perhaps ... the referendum requires logistical preparation," said Walid Hajjem, an adviser to Saied.

He added that this was the president's plan, which was at the final stage and was expected to be formally unveiled soon.

Hajjem did not expand on what changes Saied was contemplating.

However, Saied has been widely expected to move to a presidential system of government that would reduce the role of the parliament, something that has been frequently discussed during years of gridlock since the 2014 constitution was agreed.

Tunisia adopted democracy after the 2011 uprising that ended autocratic rule and triggered the Arab Spring revolts across the region.

Both domestic and international forces have pushed Saied to appoint a government and show how he means to exit the constitutional crisis triggered by his intervention.

Tunisia faces grave economic problems and a looming threat to public finances and had just started talks with the International Monetary Fund for a new loan program when Saied ousted the prime minister.

This week ambassadors from the G-7 group of rich democracies urged Saied to appoint a government and return Tunisia to a constitutional order in which an elected parliament played a significant role.

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