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Tunisia: Kaïs Saïed extends state of emergency

Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed announced the extension of the state of emergency until the end of 2024. This controversial measure has been in place since July 2021.

In an official publication of the Official Journal of the Tunisian Republic (JORT) dated Tuesday, a presidential decree specified that “the state of emergency is extended to the entire Tunisian Republic, from January 31, 2024, until December 31, 2024”. These exceptional measures include banning meetings, imposing curfews, store searches, media surveillance, and many others, without requiring prior authorization from the judiciary.

Local and international criticism is intensifying as opposition movements express fears over the use of the state of emergency to repress those who oppose decisions made by Saied since July 2021. These decisions include the dissolution of the Superior Council of the Judiciary and Parliament, the adoption of laws by presidential decrees, early legislative elections in December 2022, and the approval of a new Constitution by referendum in July 2022.

Some consider these measures to be “consecration of autocratic power”while others see them as “a restoration of the course of the 2011 revolution”, who overthrew the regime of then president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali (1987-2011).

Kaïs Saïed, in office since 2019, justifies these measures by asserting that they are “necessary and legal” to save the State from “total collapse”. The extension of the state of emergency until the end of 2024 marks a new stage in this period of persistent political crisis.