Tunisia's Kais Saied announces referendum on new constitution

Symbolic dates in 2022 chosen for vote on new constitution and legislative elections

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday night announced plans for a referendum on a new constitution. AFP

President Kais Saied on Monday evening presented his roadmap for reshaping the nation's political and economic future, and paving the way for major changes to the constitution.

Mr Saied announced in a televised address that a referendum on new constitutional provisions would be held on July 25, a year after he instituted a one-month period of exceptional executive control, which he has since extended indefinitely.

The referendum will be held after an advisory period between January 1 and March 20, 2022.

“I have taken the decision that must have been taken, as I will not let the country fall prey to monsters," Mr Saied said, referring to those who opposed or challenged his sole authority.

Parts of the referendum process will be conducted on an online platform that is being built, he said, and will include questions drawn up by him and his close advisers.

Mr Saied offered few details on the advisory period, what questions would be put to Tunisians, and how their answers would be worded in constitutional amendments.

But he did offer further insights into other political questions to which the country has sought answers since his exceptional period began.

The nation's Parliament, which Mr Saied suspended in July, will remain closed for another year, with legislative elections to be held December 17, 2022, after new electoral laws are put in place, he said.

He also revealed his plans for a reconciliation with businessmen he has accused of stealing from the Tunisian people.

Under the scheme, they would be granted amnesty in exchange for funding development projects in the poorest areas of the country.

"Those who had corruption cases linked to them will be ranked according to a descending ranking, from the most implicated to the least implicated, and municipalities will be also ranked from the poorest to the least poor," Mr Saied said.

"Then the most implicated will be responsible for funding projects that would benefit the state and the people.”

Updated: December 15th 2021, 4:58 AM