Tunisia’s President Kais Saied calls on new parliament to hold inaugural session

Only 11 per cent of the population voted for the the parliament’s first chamber, the House of Representatives

A member of Tunisia's security forces stands guard outside parliament headquarters, in Tunis. AFP
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Tunisian president Kais Saied has called on the newly elected parliament's House of Representatives to hold its inaugural plenary session on Monday, March 13.

The session will mark the first parliamentary activity in Tunisia since Mr Saied suspended the former parliament and dismissed the government in July 2021.

Since then, the President has been ruling the country through decrees.

He has changed the country’s constitution through a referendum that only had a 30 per cent participation rate and dissolved most of the country’s elected bodies, including municipal councils.

According to the decree issued in the official gazette on Thursday night, the House of Representatives will be chaired by the eldest elected member until the election of a Speaker to the house.

The youngest male and female MPs will be co-chairing as well, until members of the House elect its leadership.

This means MP Saleh Mbarki from Kabaria constituency will chair the first session, being the oldest member of the newly elected parliament.

MPs Ghassen Yamoun from Djerba-Houmt Souk constituency and Syrine Bou Sandal from Jarzouna constituency, will be co-chairs.

On February 25, Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections announced the final results of the country’s parliamentary elections that took place in December and January in two rounds.

The new parliament will begin its work with 154 deputies out of 161, due to vacancies in seven electoral constituencies designated for Tunisians living abroad, where no candidates presented themselves for election.

Elections for the parliament had a participation rate as low as 11 per cent, the lowest in the country’s history. Only 25 of the elected MPs are women.

Out of the elected MPs, 125 are independents, while the rest are members of political parties and coalitions that support Mr Saied’s project.

Pan-Arab nationalist party Echaab won 10 seats, while members of the pro-Saied initiatives that were formed after July 25, 2021 — Triumph of the People, The People Build and the July 25 Movement — won a total of 14 seats.

Some former MPs from political parties such as Nidaa Tounes, Tahya Tounes as well as pro-Ben Ali regime figures were also able to secure seats in the new House of Representatives.

With most of the newly elected MPs being independents, analysts say it is still hard to predict the coming parliamentary blocs. Observers say this may potentially lead to the fragmentation of the legislative body.

The date for the elections of the second parliamentary chamber, the House of Districts and Regions, has not been announced yet.

Updated: March 10, 2023, 3:52 PM