Judges in Tunisia have continued their nationwide protest into the third week. The senior judiciary officials say that their protest is a fight against ‘judicial interference’ by the president of the country, Kais Saied.
The strike action began after the president ordered the sacking of 57 judges on the grounds that they were promoting terrorists in the country.
In their defense, the judges claim that the action of the president is a threat to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
They claim that the president is trying to intimidate the judiciary into becoming a rubber stamp of the executive to go after political opponents.
Critics who favour the actions of the judicial officials say that the actions of the president show traces of authoritarianism. Saying that he has no right to sack judges in the country, as the judiciary is an independent arm of government.
Speaking on the accusations that the judiciary was protecting terrorists in the country, the critics believe it is better for the country to have a corrupt judiciary than an overly powerful executive.
The strike action began on June 4, but social commentators said they were surprised it had entered into the third week. They claim it showed defiance on the part of the judges, especially as they were standing toe to toe against the president of the country.
You will recall that President Kais Saied tightened his grip on the overall control of the country in July last year when he sacked the Prime Minister and froze parliamentary activities in the country.
Reacting to the development, Mourad Massoudi, the head of the Young Judges Association, told the media that “the judges decided unanimously to extend the strike for a third week to hold a day of rage in which the judges will protest in the streets in their uniforms.”
He said members of judges had decided to take things to the next level by staging a hunger strike against the decision to dismiss them.
Upon assuming the position of the president, Saied has taken actions that many critics claim to prove that he is attempting a one-man government in the country. He set aside the 2014 democratic constitution to rule by decree and dismissed the elected parliament.
Speaking on his actions after sacking the 57 judges, President Saied said that the decisions were needed to cleanse the judiciary of rampant corruption and that he does not aim to control the judiciary.
In February this year, President Saied dissolved the Supreme Judicial Council, which had acted as the main guarantor of judicial independence since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.
At the time, Tunisia’s Judges Association called for a two-day strike for all courts in the country in protest against Saied’s move to dissolve the top judicial watchdog amid growing fears of a return to authoritarian rule.
However, the president’s supporters remain defiant; they claim he is standing up to elite forces whose bungling and corruption have condemned Tunisia to a decade of political paralysis and economic stagnation.
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