In Tunisia, President Kaïs Saïed denies any power vacuum

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed, who had not been seen in public since March 22, reappeared in a video of his services early Monday evening, April 3, and denied any power vacuum

In Tunisia, President Kaïs Saïed denies any power vacuum

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed, who had not been seen in public since March 22, reappeared in a video of his services early Monday evening, April 3, and denied any power vacuum. A few hours earlier, the leader of the National Salvation Front (FSN, the main opposition coalition) had called on the government to reveal the reasons for the president's "absence", claiming to have been informed that he had had "problems of health ".

Regarding speculation that he had serious health problems, Mr. Saïed spoke on Monday evening of "a degree of madness never experienced in Tunisia". “The president has been away for two or three days, he has caught a cold and it becomes a problem, a power vacuum, a vacuum? These people deserve nothing but contempt,” he said while receiving the head of government, Najla Bouden.

Earlier, the head of the DSF, Ahmed Néjib Chebbi, had spoken to the press, "asking the government to address the Tunisian people and say if there are health reasons which forced the president to s 'absent'. He had urged the authorities to specify "the nature of these health reasons", stressing that in the event of a temporary vacancy of power, it was up to the head of government to ensure the interim.

Mr Chebbi had also warned of the risk of a "great catastrophe" in the event of a permanent vacancy, such as in the case of death or serious illness, due to a legislative loophole. Indeed, according to the new Constitution promulgated in the summer of 2022 by Kaïs Saïed, it is the President of the Constitutional Court who must replace the Head of State until a new presidential election is held. However, the Constitutional Court has not yet been set up.

"This matter concerns all Tunisians and it is necessary, in the event of a permanent vacancy, to launch serious and open consultations so that the Tunisian people and the civil and political forces agree on a mechanism for the transfer of power", added Mr Chebbi.

"These people have lost their compass"

Since the evening of March 22, the president has not engaged in any activity, meeting or travel in public, according to the presidency's Facebook page - the only official communication channel - which has sparked speculation on social media about his condition. health. In the video from the presidency, Mr. Saïed denounced without naming them people who "try to create crises". The power vacuum "is in their heads, these people have lost their bearings, they are obsessed with power," he said.

Mr. Saïed, 65, democratically elected to the presidency in 2019, has concentrated all powers since July 25, 2021. Despite the entry into office of a new Parliament in March - largely deprived of its previous prerogatives -, the president continues to rule the country by decrees.

At the beginning of February, the already strong tensions between Mr. Saïed and the opposition rose to a new level after the arrest of leaders of the FSN and the Islamist-inspired party Ennahda, a member of this coalition and pet peeve of the leader of the state since his coup. Mr. Saïed called the 20 or so people arrested, who also included businessmen and the director of Tunisia's most popular private radio station (Mosaic FM), "terrorists", accusing them of "conspiracy against security of State ".

NGOs and the main opposition parties have denounced an "authoritarian drift" in Tunisia, rocking the young democracy that emerged from the first revolt of the "Arab Spring" in 2011.