TUNIS - The referendum campaign on the new draft constitution was launched in Tunisia

, in light of a noticeable apathy and accusations leveled at the electoral commission for allegedly "biasing" President Kais Saied, and amid questions about whether President Kais Saied will abide by the results of the referendum if voters reject his draft.

The referendum campaign on the new draft constitution, which replaced the existing political system from the amended parliamentary system to the presidential one, will continue from the third to the 24th of July this year, with the vote “yes” or “no” on the draft constitution on the 25th of the same month.

The country has not witnessed any political activities, noting that it will soon enter the stage of a referendum on a new draft constitution, as a result of the weakness of movement, whether through popular meetings or on social networking sites or the media.

Since its inception, the referendum campaign has not recorded any noticeable movement, whether by opposition or pro-President Kais Saied parties.

The referendum campaign is characterized by a boycott of the most prominent parties, such as the Ennahda Movement, the most prominent political party that participated in the ruling system after the 2011 revolution.

The referendum campaign is lukewarm, with notable national organizations participating, such as the Businessmen Organization, the Peasants' Union, the Human Rights League, the Women's Union and Lawyers, while the Tunisian General Labor Union participates without obligating its members to take any position on the draft constitution.

Participation in the referendum was limited to individuals, organizations and small parties such as the People's Movement, the Republican People's Union Party, the Afaq Tounes Party, the National Raya Party, the Tunisia Movement for the Emam, the Popular Current Party, the Alliance for Tunisia Party, the Happiness Party, the Popular Mobilization Party, and the Harakat Party. The youth, the People's Party wants, the Tunisian National Coalition, and the Green Party for Progress.


Qais Saeed's message

The referendum campaign is one of the most important stations in the electoral process, but its launch witnessed, regardless of the apathy, a wave of criticism of President Qais Saeed, who published a statement today, Tuesday, on the page of the Presidency of the Republic, calling on voters to vote “yes” on the draft constitution.

In his statement to Tunisian public opinion, Qais Saeed criticized the system of government before July 25, 2021, blaming it for the impoverishment and starvation of Tunisians, the rampant corruption, the looting of public money, the attack on state institutions and the denial of the demands of the Tunisian revolution from the rulers.

Saeed said that the new draft constitution aims to correct the political track, ensure freedoms and balance between authorities, intensify monitoring of government work, and ensure the circulation of power by limiting the right to run for the presidency once, considering the questioning of the credibility of his draft "slander."

The Election Commission faces criticism during the referendum campaign (social networking sites)

Doubting the integrity of the campaign

On the other hand, opponents questioned the integrity of the path taken by President Qais Saeed since he ruled the country with exceptional decrees after freezing Parliament and dismissing the previous government since he announced his exceptional measures about a year ago. They also questioned the referendum campaign on the draft constitution and the integrity of the Elections Commission.

The leader of the opposition Democratic Current Party, Hisham al-Ajbouni, said that the president "violated" the rules of the referendum campaign, which were seized by the electoral commission because of his call on Tunisians to vote on the draft constitution.

The Electoral Commission set the conditions and rules for participation in the electoral campaign, stressing the need to state their position on the referendum and to submit a set of administrative documents that authorize them to participate, as well as imposing a set of measures such as rejecting hatred and violence, employing places of worship or educational institutions in the campaign, accepting foreign funding or Obstructing the work of the Commission's observers from carrying out their activities and others.

Al-Ajbouni told Al-Jazeera Net that "the electoral commission's condoning of these abuses is a double standard and an open bias to the president," noting that the referendum campaign controls allow the president to clarify the content of the draft constitution in an explanatory paper and not directly influence the voters.

It was not possible to obtain an official from the Elections Authority to respond to this accusation.

On the other hand, Al-Ajbouni considered that what was stated in the message that Kais Saied sent today to the Tunisians is a "major fallacy," stressing that he "drafted the new draft constitution according to his own measure, in order for him to rule and dominate the executive and judicial authority, with the inclusion of clauses that prevent the president from being held accountable."

Al-Ajbouni said that the referendum on the new draft constitution "will not be a referendum on content but pledge allegiance to the president," expecting that it will be approved in the absence of real guarantees of election integrity, especially without specifying a minimum level of voter participation in the referendum.

The picture seems ambiguous in the mind of this political opponent about the scenario in which the country might slip if the president's draft was rejected and he did not abide by the results of the referendum if they were in his favour, saying, "We are not aware of the consequences that may occur if the draft constitution is rejected."


course correction project

On the other hand, Osama Oueidat, a leader in the People's Movement, a supporter of the draft constitution, affirmed that President Kais Saied's urging Tunisians to vote for the draft constitution is "obvious" as he is the author of the project.

Oueidat told Al Jazeera Net that opponents of the president are making "false arguments" that he has violated the rules and regulations of the electoral campaign, noting that the president has the right to urge Tunisians to his project, which seeks to "correct the course of the betrayed revolution."

He pointed out that it is normal in a democratic climate based on freedom of expression for opponents to criticize the course taken by the president, but he rejects their concerns about the possibility of a return to tyranny and the dominance of individual rule over power in Tunisia based on the draft constitution.

Osama Oweidat confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that his party is involved in the referendum campaign with the aim of urging voters to vote in favor of the draft constitution, as a "glimmer of hope" to get the country out of the state of destruction that it was under before the July 25, 2021 period.

On the extent of Tunisian President Kais Saied's commitment to the results of the referendum in the event that the draft constitution did not receive the approval and acceptance of most of the voters, Oueidat said that it is not possible to be certain of the scenario that the country will lead to.

He stressed that the referendum on the draft constitution is a referendum on its content and not on the person of Qais Saeed, and that his refusal by the voters means "his project falls into the water", which may open the country to the unknown, like the Libyan scenario.

Observers expect that the referendum will witness a reluctance from the voters, whose number is about 9 million people, attributing this reluctance in particular to the reduced participation of voters in the electoral tracks due to the deteriorating economic and social conditions.

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