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Tunisia referendum: hundreds gather against new Constitution

Tunisian protesters raise flags and placards on July 23, 2022, during a demonstration along Habib Bourguiba avenue in the capital Tunis.   -  
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Just a few hours before a referendum on a new Constitution, hundreds of Tunisians were still on the streets to demonstrate against the draft text put forward by their leader. Officials of the Islamic-inspired Ennahda party stood among protesters in Tunis on Saturday accusing president Kais Saied of a power grab since last year.

"The most important message we want to convey is that the pro-democracy demonstrators in Tunisia continue to fight against the coup and against all those who want to roll back the revolution and democracy.", said Ali Larayedh, Ennahdha party leader. While a former senior figure, Samir Dilou, said the referendum was to "give allegiance to one person, Kais Saied".

The new Constitution aims to give less power to the Parliament as allowed by the 2014 Constitution. A decision considered a threat to democracy for many who praise the 2014 text inspired by the 2011 Arab Spring. "I came to participate as a Tunisian woman, to say that I endorse the 2014 constitution and that I say no to the referendum, no to the one-man constitution, no to the concentration of power in the hands of one person, no to the destruction of institutions in Tunisia.", explained Basma in Tunis.

The referendum on July 25 is taking place a year to the day after Saied sacked the government and suspended parliament in a decisive blow against the country's young democracy. The text would allow him to head the armed forces and appoint judges, who would be banned from striking.

Opponents have called for a boycott of Monday's referendum.

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