A measure that will not change the political map… What is behind referring Tunisian leaders to the judiciary and excluding Qais Saeed?
The Labor Party considered that raising the issue of electoral irregularities at this time aims to continue to belittle political work, parties, and elections in general, and “serve Qais Said’s scheme to impose his authoritarian populist political project.”
Tunisia- A decision to refer prominent Tunisian party leaders to the judiciary on charges of electoral crimes provoked mixed reactions and questions about the legal consequences of this, at a time when political figures, with the exception of the President of the Republic, Kais Saied, denounced it, despite his mention in the Court of Accounts report.
According to a report by the liaison office of the Court of First Instance in Tunis, it was decided to refer 19 people to the court’s wing council on charges of committing electoral crimes.
The decision targeted prominent political and party figures, including former President Moncef Marzouki, head of the Ennahda movement Rashid Ghannouchi, head of the “Qalb Tounes” party, Nabil Karoui, head of the “Long Live Tunisia” movement, Youssef Chahed, Labor Party leader Hamma Hammami, and others.
The judicial referral was decided based on the chapters related to the electoral and referendum law, and the accusation of “committing crimes related to political advertising, benefiting from illegal propaganda through social media, and propaganda during the electoral silence period.”
Why was it not possible to refer Qais Saeed?
The Liaison Office of the Court of First Instance explained that “it was not possible to refer others to the court for reasons related to some procedures for raising a public case related to the violator’s status and completing some research,” referring to Qais Saeed as a former candidate and president of the republic with his immunity.
Regarding the legal impact of these electoral crimes, Judge Fadela Karkouri of the Court of Accounts said, in a local media statement, that the totality of the electoral violations and crimes referred to require financial penalties ranging from 5 to 10 thousand Tunisian dinars (about one thousand and three thousand dollars) in relation to political advertising, and between 3 And 20 thousand dinars for violating the electoral silence period.
Party leaders included in the judicial decision quickly denied receiving any official invitation to appear before the court on charges of committing electoral crimes, such as Ennahda Movement leader Rached Ghannouchi and Labor Party leader Hamma Hammami.
Abdel Fattah Taghouti, in charge of media and communication with Ennahda Movement, confirmed that his party did not receive any summons from any judicial authority, denouncing the inclusion of Rashed Ghannouchi on the list of candidates for the presidential elections, while he ran for the top of a legislative electoral list that did not include electoral crimes but rather irregularities.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera Net, the leader of Al-Nahda accused the President of the Republic of trying to pressure the judiciary to issue rulings condemning his political opponents and distorting them in public opinion, stressing that his party is not afraid of the judiciary, and is ready to defend its leaders and refute the charges against its president with legal documents and arguments.
Al-Taghouti expressed his astonishment at the absence of the name of Qais Saied from the list of those accused of electoral crimes, “despite the fact that his name was mentioned in the report of the Court of Accounts, and the Public Prosecution argued with impediments related to his capacity and the immunity he enjoys, which he previously stripped of MPs without any judicial decision.”
“Service to Happy Planner”
The Labor Party condemned what it described as “cramming” its Secretary-General in this political publicity and floating the case, in return for excluding President Qais Saeed from it despite his name being included in the list of violators in the report of the Court of Accounts.
The party considered, in an official statement, that raising this issue at this time aims to continue to belittle political work, parties and elections in general, and to “serve Saeed’s scheme to impose his authoritarian populist political project.”
The Workers’ Party questioned the seriousness of what was stated in the Public Prosecution’s statement, denying all charges against its General Secretary related to political advertising and illegal propaganda through social media.
The party also expressed its great surprise at not including the name of Qais Saeed at the top of the list of beneficiaries of political advertising and illegal propaganda on social media, despite his name being mentioned in the Court of Accounts report, which indicated that he received 30-page support on social media.
The party said that the reasoning of the judiciary not to raise a public case against people because of their capacity is of no value in the case of Qais Saeed, given that he abolished the constitution and replaced it with a presidential order.
In a special statement to Al Jazeera Net, former President Moncef Marzouki considered that President Qais Saeed personally targeted him as part of a series of retaliatory measures, which he began by withdrawing his diplomatic passport and issuing a court sentence to four years in prison in a secret trial, and attacking and abusing his brother.
Al-Marzouki pointed out that Saeed is about to attack all his political opponents, to appear before Tunisians as a “warrior for all the corrupt”, with his own adherence to immunity and lifting it from others.
The former president warned that the circle of liquidating opponents will expand in the coming days, at a time when the country is sinking into poverty and psychological misery, as he described it.
“A whirlwind in a cup”
For his part, lawyer and political analyst Abdel Latif Derbala said that referring political and party figures to the judiciary for committing irregularities in the presidential election campaign is no more than a “storm in a teacup”, and that it will not change anything from the political map, given that the listed penalties do not exceed the ceiling of financial fines.
Derbala told Al Jazeera Net, “There will be no provisions to cancel the election results or drop candidates or lists, nor dissolution or deprivation of parties or people from running for the upcoming elections, but it may give an indication of the possibility of financial judicial accountability for electoral violations.”