Accessibility links

Breaking News

Tunisian Court Halts President's Judge Purge

FILE - Tunisian then-presidential candidate Kais Saied speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tunis, Tunisia September 17, 2019.

A Tunisian court has halted President Kais Saied's dismissal of dozens of judges, a lawyer said on Wednesday, underscoring the continued independence of courts despite Saied's moves to exert authority over the judiciary.

Attorney Kamel Ben Massoud told Reuters that the Tunis administrative court had rejected the appeals of at least seven judges but blocked the dismissal of the others, pending a final ruling by a higher court.

President Kais Saied dismissed 57 judges on June 1, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists - charges that the Tunisian Judges' Association said were mostly politically motivated.

Several members of the Supreme Judicial Council — the body responsible for overseeing judges and the guarantor of judicial independence — were replaced in March.

Last month, Saied pushed through a new constitution through a referendum which gave hims nearly unchecked powers. Critics say it will lead to authoritarian rule and the end of democracy in the country.

The constitution has given Saied ultimate authority over both the government and judicial appointments, while making the parliament largely powerless.

The moves, which Saied and supporters say were needed to end years of political paralysis and economic stagnation in Tunisia, formalize temporary powers that he assumed after shutting down the elected parliament a year ago.

Saied, a law lecturer before his 2019 election victory, had been dismayed by several judicial decisions and accused the council of acting on behalf of political interests.