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In Tunisia, Kaïs Saïed wants to remain judge and party

While the Tunisian administrative court demanded the return to work for the judges dismissed in June, the Ministry of Justice and the President of the Republic Kaïs Saïed are sticking to their positions.

Between the judges and Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed, the tension remains palpable. Because the soap opera, which we thought was coming to an end after the decision of the administrative court, continues.

At the beginning of June, the dismissal of 57 magistrates had been decided by the President of the Republic. A presidential decree which had provoked the ire of NGOs and judges. On the side of the palace of Carthage, the magistrates were accused of acts of corruption and obstruction of several investigations. But also adulterous episodes.

Among the judges concerned by this measure, which had provoked strikes, 53 had filed appeals before the administrative court. A few days ago, the administrative court finally suspended the decision of Kaïs Saïed, with regard to 47 of the judges who were therefore to resume their functions after obtaining a copy of the verdict last Wednesday.

But Kaïs Saïed, silent for a long time after this administrative decision, prefers to engage in a standoff rather than accept this verdict. This Sunday, August 14, the Ministry of Justice indicated, in a terse press release, that the dismissed magistrates were subject to criminal proceedings.

The judgments of the administrative court "are firm and do not leave room for any appeal, even in cassation", responds in a press release, this Monday, the Coordination of the judicial structures of the country. According to the Tunisian Constitution, the decision of the administrative court is indeed final. The union deplores "the production, a posteriori, of files against the dismissed judges".

The Minister of Justice in the heart of the storm

The same coordination sees it as "a serious abuse of power" on the part of Kaïs Saïed. "The president, in short, sends a message saying: 'I am the state'," said an observer of Tunisian politics. On July 25, 2021, Kaïs Saïed assumed full powers. He then decided to dissolve, in February, the Superior Council of the Judiciary and had set up a provisional CSM, before dismissing the famous judges.

It remains to be seen how the administrative court will enforce its decision. In the meantime, voices are rising in Tunisia to claim the head of the Minister of Justice, Leïla Jaffel, who would be behind the decision of Kaïs Saïed, according to the vice-president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights. 'Man (LTDH), Bassem Trifi. But several sources claim that Leïla Jaffel will indeed be part of the next government, despite an inevitable cabinet reshuffle.

The Tunisian press also claims that an independent commission, placed under the jurisdiction of the military court, has also recommended the reinstatement of the dismissed judges. “Was the president manipulated by his Minister of Justice? Maybe, write Business News. What we know is that the lady has not been received by the president for two months and that the latter is angry with her”.

The Minister of Justice would be criticized for ensuring that all the judges affected by the dismissal are subject to legal proceedings. What the administrative court disputes. An imbroglio which, for the moment, has not changed the position of Kaïs Saïed…

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