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Tunisia: Faqih Sadouq Belaid, who is responsible for drafting a new constitution in Tunisia, told AFP on Monday that he would present to the head of state a draft charter omitted from any reference to Islam to fight Islamist parties such as Ennahda.

Article 1 of the current constitution adopted with great fanfare in 2014, three years after the fall of the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali dictatorship, states, similar to the 1959 Charter, that Tunisia is “a free, independent and sovereign state, and Islam is its religion, its Arabic language, and the republic.” its system”.

Sadok Belaid’s statements are likely to spark lively debate in a country with a strong secular tradition, but where several Islamist-inspired parties have played a leading role since the 2011 revolution that toppled the Ben Ali regime.

Appointed on May 20 to head the “National Consultative Committee for a New Republic”, responsible for drafting a new constitution, Mr. Belaid indicated that he would present the draft to President Kais Saied by May 15 at the latest. It is being put to a popular referendum, in the referendum that will be announced on July 25th.

“80% of Tunisians oppose extremism and oppose the use of religion for political purposes. This is exactly what we will do once Article 1 is erased in its current form,” the lawyer said in an interview with AFP.

When asked whether this means that the new constitution will not include any reference to Islam, he replied: “There will not be.”

“There is a possibility that we will cancel Article 1 in its current version. We can dispense with mentioning any religion.”

dirty hands»

According to Mr. Belaid, the suppression of any reference to Islam is aimed at fighting Islamist-inspired parties, especially Ennahda, the main force in the parliament that Mr. Said dissolved.

“If you use religion to do political extremism, we will ban it,” continued the 83-year-old academic, who claims to have “a very great and very deep friendship and affinity” with Mr. Said. Student.

“We have political parties with dirty hands and whether you like it or not, French or European democrats, we will not accept dirty people in our democracy,” he said.

According to him, “Al-Nahda and other parties are followers of many foreign powers or forces, or small countries or states that have a lot of money that they want to spend as they want and that they use to interfere in the country’s affairs.” “This is treason.”

Après des mois de blocage politique, M. Saied, élu démocratiquement fin 2019, s’est arrogé les pleins pouvoirs le 25 juillet 2021 en limogeant le Premier ministre et en suspendant le Parlement dominé par Ennahdha, sa bêre de noire le disvant Mars.

temptations of dictatorship»

In a roadmap that is supposed to end the crisis, Mr. Said announced that a referendum on a new constitution would be held on 25 July 2022, ahead of legislative elections on 17 December.

The committee headed by Mr. Belaid is working on developing the new constitution through a “national dialogue” launched last Saturday, from which the main parties were excluded.

Invited to this dialogue, the Tunisian trade union center UGTT, a major player on the political scene, declined to participate.

“We invite you, the door is open. If you do not want the train to leave on time,” Mr. Belaid said on the address of the Tunisian General Labor Union.

Mr. Said calls for a “more presidential” system rather than the hybrid system put in place in 2014 and the source of frequent conflicts between the executive and legislative branches.

“The chief might have more powers, or perhaps more useful powers. He just had the blocking power and that’s too bad. The chief is the captain. He’s the admiral. So he should not only have the power to brake but the power to train..” moderately”.

However, the new system must be designed so that the president is not “driven or drawn to the temptations of dictatorship, authoritarianism, or the abuse of power.”

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