UGTT criticizes Saed’s draft new constitution

The Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) said the creation of the National Advisory Commission for a New Republic did not live up to the expectations of the patriotic forces that supported the process that started on July 25, 2021. The Trade Union Center recalled the many calls for dialogue launched since November 2020. UGTT considered that the absence of the Legal Affairs Committee, which was to be part of the National Commission, could only confirm this observation. The organization also mentioned the contradictions between the draft of the new Constitution of the President of the Republic and that of the Commission.

In a publication of 8 July 2022, the UGTT issued a number of remarks in connection with the draft of the new constitution, which was submitted to the referendum on 25 July 2022. The trade union center believed that the text proposed by the President of the Republic, Kaïs Saïed, including in its preamble “After consulting the Constitution” was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of 2014. The UGTT recalled that the latter did not allow the President of the Republic to submit a draft new Constitution to a referendum. The project, according to the organization, contented itself with mentioning a few passages from the history of Tunisia that relate to the achievements of the President of the Republic.

The trade union center mentioned the removal of the term “dignity” from the motto of the Republic of Tunisia. UGTT also considered that the project in question did not make it possible to hold the head of state accountable for his actions. She criticized the lack of separation and balance between powers.

With regard to the chapter on general principles, the trade union center noted that the draft constitution, which Kaïs Saïed presented to the referendum, has:

– Abandoned the use of the term “civil status” and the use of the term “the foundation of Islam”. UGTT believed that this would make religion one of the elements of political work.

– Override the social and solidarity-based economy and exclude it from Article 17, which refers to the public and private sectors. UGTT considered that this indicated an intention to marginalize this sector.

– Abandoned the mention of the Republican character of the Tunisian army and the law enforcement agencies.

– Omitted to mention certain elements of great importance such as digitization and renewable energy.

With regard to rights and freedoms, the UGTT mentioned the continued application of possible restrictions by law, the abandonment of the principle of proportionality in the event of a restriction of a right, the vagueness of women’s rights and the absence of a ban on the revision of certain articles.

In response to the provisions relating to the legislative office, the UGTT considered that the prohibition on combining parliamentary practice with another office, even unpaid, could harm political life. The trade union center considered that the suspension of the alternate’s immunity for acts committed in the assembly could put the latter in a weak situation and put him under pressure. The UGTT also noted the weakening of Parliament’s oversight role in government activity. The absence of opportunities to carry out a no-confidence motion against the head of state is, according to the same source, a serious attack on the balance of power. She considered that the conditions for the adoption of a motion of censure were impossible to reach. The organization believed that the creation of the National Council of Regions and Districts weakened parliament. She criticized the proposal for the possibility of revoking an elected by the voters.

The trade union center has considered the chapter on the executive branch. She stressed that there is no deadline for the application of exceptional measures. The possibility of launching a referendum on the constitution, at the request of the President of the Republic, is, according to the same source, an interference with the legislature. She believed that the draft of the new constitution introduced a presidential system.

With regard to the government, the UGTT recalled that the project was against any possibility of holding the Prime Minister accountable for his actions towards Parliament. The trade union organization recalled that the government was formed only by the head of state and that it was responsible for applying the latter’s directives and policies.

With regard to the judiciary, the UGTT warned against the weakening of the latter. The organization stated that the draft did not refer to the Supreme Council of the Judiciary as being a constitutional body. She returned to the appointment of judges by the President of the Republic, the abolition of the right to strike by judges, and the total absence of provisions concerning lawyers.

UGTT also criticized the creation of a constitutional court composed entirely of judges. She explained that the appointment of members will indirectly follow from the appointments of judges by the Head of State and believed that this affected the independence and impartiality of this institution. The trade union center criticized the abolition of a number of constitutional bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights and the National Commission for Combating Corruption.

Finally, the UGTT mentioned the absence of the scenario by a majority for “no” on the occasion of the referendum on 25 July 2022 in the transitional provisions. She believed that the creation of the National Council of Regions and Districts was one of the stages in the implementation of the grassroots management project.


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