US ‘deeply concerned’ by dissolution of Tunisia judicial watchdog

The US said Monday it was “deeply concerned” by Tunisian President Kais Saied’s decision to dissolve the country’s top legal watchdog, the Supreme Judicial Council, and to block access to its headquarters.

“An independent judiciary is a core element of an effective and transparent democracy,” said State Department Spokesman Ned Price. “It is essential that the Government of Tunisia holds its commitments to respect the independence of the judiciary, as stipulated in the Constitution.”

Saied dissolved the body on Sunday, months after sacking the government and seizing wide-reaching powers in Tunisia.

And on Monday, Tunisian police blocked all roads to the Council’s headquarters in the capital Tunis, in a move its chief Youssef Bouzakher slammed as illegal.

Washington urged urgent political reform in Tunisia that promotes “the inclusion of diverse voices representing political parties, civil society and unions, particularly in the ongoing national consultations, and that ensures the continued respect for Tunisia’s human rights,” Price said.

Price added that economic reforms were also needed “to stabilize the financial situation and address Tunisia’s growing economic challenges.”

Tunisia’s debts have soared to nearly 100 percent of its GDP, which plunged almost nine percent in 2020, the worst rate in North Africa, only modestly offset by a three percent bounceback last year.

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