Tunisia's panel to go ahead in writing new constitution despite academics' rejection

FILE PHOTO: Tunisia's President Kais Saied gives a statement on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination, during a European Union - African Union summit, in Brussels, Belgium February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

TUNIS (Reuters) - The head of a committee tasked to prepare Tunisia's new constitution said on Wednesday he would go ahead with whomever participates in the panel after prominent academics refused to join it, raising fears the restructuring of the political system would not have broad consensus.

Last week, President Kais Saied named by a decree Sadok Belaid, a law professor, to head an advisory committee that included law and political science deans, excluding political parties from the constitutional process.

The academics on Tuesday turned down the appointments as opposition spreads against his restructuring plans.

"Whoever attends will be enough"‮,‬ Belaid told state TV.‮ ‬

This week, the labor union UGTT refused also to take part in a limited dialogue on political reforms proposed by the president.

Saied, who took executive power and dissolved parliament to rule by decree, has since said he will replace the democratic 2014 constitution with a new constitution via a July 25 referendum and hold new parliamentary elections in December.

Tunisia's major political parties have said they will fight Saied's decision to exclude them from major political reforms, including the drafting of a new constitution, and accused him of seeking to consolidate autocratic rule.

(Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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