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Tunisia’s president sacks dozens of judges, strengthens grip

June 2, 2022 GMT

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s President Kaïs Saied dismissed 57 judges, accusing them of “obstructing the functioning of justice” as he strengthened his grip on the judiciary.

Last July, critics accused Saied of making a grab for one man-rule after he sacked the government and took hold of executive powers. He was accused of staging a coup after ditching the 2014 constitution, to rule instead by decree.

On Wednesday night, the judge’s dismissal was formalized by decree in the Official Gazette. This followed a televised address in which Saied said he had “given opportunity after opportunity and warning after warning to the judiciary to purify itself.”

Saied listed a long series of accusations with scant evidence against the dozens of judges ranging from corruption, illegal amassing of wealth, protecting terrorists and even sexual harassment.

Saied conferred on himself sweeping powers last year, measures the president claimed were needed to “save the country from imminent peril” and fight widespread corruption.

Under pressure from Tunisia’s allies, who are concerned about democratic backsliding in the country, Saied has laid out a roadmap that foresees organizing a July 25 referendum on political reforms to amend the constitution. That would be followed by a parliamentary election on Dec. 17.