Tunisia says 50,000 join consultation process for new constitution

President Kais Saied announced the consultation in December

More than 50,000 people have so far participated in Tunisia's national consultation, which will feed into the drafting of a new constitution, authorities said Wednesday.

President Kais Saied announced the consultation in December when he extended a suspension of parliament, a move that fuelled concerns for the only democracy to have emerged from the Arab uprisings a decade ago.

The consultation will last until March 20.

Topics include political, economic, financial, social, health, educational and cultural affairs.

"We are at the fifth day and the number of participants has reached 52,000 – that's good," Technology Minister Nizar Ben Neji said. "We will intensify our awareness campaign."

The electronic platform for the consultations was fully launched on Saturday after it partially opened on January 1.

Tunisians abroad are also able to participate, using their identify card to access the platform and register their remarks.

Authorities say more than three quarters of Tunisia's 12 million population has internet access, while those without will be able to use computers in youth centres across the country.

A constitutional referendum is planned for July 25, 2022 – exactly a year after Mr Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament and said he would assume executive powers.

The president later took steps to rule by decree, and in early December vowed to press on with reforms to the political system.

His power grab was initially supported by many Tunisians frustrated at repeated deadlocks within the fractious legislature.

On December 13, Mr Saied laid out a roadmap for drafting a new constitution, which is expected to grant more powers to the executive branch at the expense of the legislature in the North African nation, before elections at the end of this year.

Mr Saied won elections in 2019 with a landslide 73 per cent of votes.

Updated: January 20, 2022, 7:49 AM