Over a year and a half after President Kais Saied dissolved Tunisia’s parliament, lawmakers have finally reconvened.
The newly elected members of Tunisia’s new parliament convened for their first session on Monday, some 20 months after the suspension of the body in July 2021.
Lawmakers were elected between January and December in an election boycotted by opposition parties and the vast majority of voters. The participation rate was barely 11%.
President Kais Saied spent more than a year and a half governing by decree prior to Monday’s session.
To report on the session, only journalists from state-controlled media were permitted admission into the parliament. Foreign and independent journalists demonstrated outside the building.
The principal opposition bloc boycotted the session, which, according to them, resulted from a “putschist constitution and elections boycotted by the vast majority of voters.”
Opposition bloc rejects new parliament
Monday, lawmakers agreed to replace Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamic movement Ennahdha, who held the role until Saied suspended the parliament, with a new parliamentary speaker.
Ennahdha was the largest political party in parliament and remains a significant member of the National Salvation Front, the strongest opposition bloc.
The new constitution will govern the functioning of the new parliament. In July of last year, Saied successfully pushed through a referendum that provides him wide-ranging authority.
No longer can the parliament impeach the president or even hold the government accountable. Also, bills proposed by the president will be given higher priority than those proposed by other lawmakers.
Due to the scarcity of candidates for representation of Tunisians living abroad, only 154 of the 161 seats in parliament have been filled, and of those, only 25 are held by female lawmakers.