The head of the Tunisian Parliament – Rashid Ghannouchi – attributed the political crisis in the country to the problem of mixing the presidential and parliamentary systems, and said that it is assumed that the president’s role in the current system is symbolic.
Ghannouchi’s comment came in light of a constitutional impasse due to President Qais Saeed’s reluctance to invite new ministers in the cabinet reshuffle to take the constitutional oath before him after gaining the confidence of Parliament on January 26th. Saeed attributed his position to the existence of suspicions of corruption around some of the new ministers, he said.
Ghannouchi said – in statements carried by the German news agency – that “the president is refraining from swearing an oath to the new team of ministers, and therefore he rejects the ministerial amendment.”
He added, “The president believes that he has the right to accept some ministers and reject others. This is the problem of mixing the presidential system and the parliamentary system.”
In its new constitution for 2014, Tunisia adopted a revised parliamentary system that grants the prime minister, the candidate of the winning party, broad executive powers.
The role of the president
The president of the republic is directly elected by the people, but his powers are mainly limited to matters of defense, national security, and foreign policy.
“We are supposed to be in a parliamentary system, and the president’s role is symbolic, not structural. The issue of governance and the cabinet does not belong to the ruling party, this is the responsibility of the prime minister,” said Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda Movement, which won the 2019 elections.
“Perhaps the lesson we will reach is to establish a complete parliamentary system in which there is a real separation of powers, and the executive authority is all in one hand, in the hand of the party that wins the elections, and it is the one that presents the prime minister,” he added.
The current prime minister, Hisham al-Mishishi, has been leading a technocratic government since last September, and he is charged by President Qais Saeed with the text of the constitution because the parties have exhausted their opportunities, according to the constitutional deadlines, to agree on a candidate for the government, but tension has escalated between al-Mishshi, supported by the two largest parties in Parliament, and President Saeed.
Saeed had hinted during his election campaign and in many of his speeches that he wanted to amend the political system towards a presidential system while strengthening the powers for local government.