Calls to boycott it and apprehension about its consequences.. What does the “Qais Saeed” electronic consultation carry?
Tunisia- The popular electronic consultation – announced by Tunisian President Kais Saied in preparation for what he said are upcoming constitutional reforms – raises several questions in popular and political circles about its content and motives for its launch, while calls for a boycott of it are mounting.
Said had announced the organization of an “electronic consultation” as part of a road map to end the state of exception that Tunisia has been experiencing since last July 25, and to organize legislative elections on December 17 next.
The President explained – during a previous ministerial meeting – that the consultation aims to receive proposals and perceptions from the people on issues of public affairs, after which a specialized committee will formulate their contents in legal texts that will be submitted to a popular referendum on all constitutional and legal reforms.
Although the first of this January was set as an official date for launching the referendum platform, it witnessed a disruption, which the president’s opponents described as confusion and lack of readiness, while the government considered it a “trial phase” targeting a sample of the respondents, to be opened to the public in the middle of this month.
The Minister of Communication Technology, Nizar Bennaji, announced – in press statements – the start of an “experimental and awareness-raising” process targeting 24 regions, noting that the platform will be open to all from January 15 to March 20.
options and interests of the participants
By accessing the platform’s website, the user will find a set of options dealing with political and electoral affairs, economic and financial affairs, social and development issues, digital transition, health and quality of life, and educational and cultural affairs.
In order to participate – according to what was reported by the portal website of the referendum platform – a person must register through a secret number of his own, which he receives by short message on his mobile phone.
According to the portal’s data, the number of participants until yesterday, Wednesday, reached 579 people, distributed between 406 males and 173 females, while the political and electoral issues took priority.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, Osama Oweidat, a leader in the People’s Movement (the most prominent parties supporting the president’s actions), considered the launch of the electronic popular referendum a good step to go towards deep constitutional and political reforms that break with the previous decade.
Oueidat called for the necessity of providing guarantees related to the platform’s work mechanism and the components of the commission, which will later supervise the compilation of the proposals of its participants, and formulate them in the form of legal procedures to be submitted later to the referendum.
The leader of the People’s Movement renewed his call to the Tunisian president to involve the national parties and forces that supported the “July 25 procedures” in the discussion of political and economic reforms, through a horizontal dialogue in parallel with the dialogue via electronic platforms.
He also called on the government to overcome obstacles related to the absence of the Internet in many areas, which may prevent the participation of large sectors and prevent them from expressing their opinion.
Fears of turning it into an exclusion tool
The Labor Union expressed several reservations about the mechanism of work of the “electronic consultation”, and said that it “cannot replace real dialogue, because it does not represent the broadest segments of society and its national forces, as well as the ambiguity of its mechanisms, the absence of means of oversight, and the risks of interfering in its course and influencing its results.” “.
The trade union organization that supported the actions of President Said last July 25 did not hide its apprehension that the consultation mechanism would be a tool for imposing a fait accompli, reaching a predetermined goal, and deliberately excluding parties and organizations, which could lead to a monopoly of power and the abolition of opposition.
Legitimate personal trainer
For his part, the head of the political body of the “Amal” party, Mohamed Naguib Chebbi, criticized the mechanism of the electronic platform’s work, and said that the constitution allowed the people to exercise their legislative right to express their opinion through a referendum that was determined by conditions contained in the electoral law.
Al-Shabbi stressed – to Al-Jazeera Net – that what Qais Saeed went to violated the constitution, subjugated state institutions and their capabilities, and exploited his capacity as President of the Republic, to achieve a personal project in which no one was consulted, and he also did not rule out his party’s call to boycott the consultation.
He expressed his fear of the possibility of targeting citizens’ personal data and collecting information about their political and social tendencies to be exploited later for electoral purposes, in the absence of guarantees for the transparency of the process and its subsequent monitoring.
Al-Shabi considered that everything that will come out of the decisions stemming from this “electronic referendum” has no legal effect, and will rise – in its most extreme cases – to a mere mechanism to use it to know what part of the people think.
The former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki called, through his personal account on Facebook, to boycott the referendum, warning against exploiting the personal data of Tunisians from intelligence arms that they later use for “more control and misinformation.”
In turn, the Secretary-General of the Labor Party, Hamma Hammami, called for a boycott of the “electronic consultation”.
Hammami considered – in a press statement – that “electronic consultation” is an “insult to the Tunisian people”, and that the president seeks through it to establish an individual rule and prepare for a constitution that leads to a centralized presidential system.
The watchdog organization “I Watch” accused the government and the Ministry of Communication Technology of being negligent and not respecting the specific date announced by the president as the date for the launch of the electronic platform to the public.
The organization expressed its denunciation of the process of preparing the platform and the parties involved in it, asking about “the transparency of the process of granting the public deal (tender to establish the platform) to certain people, including the owner of a startup company that has no experience in this field.”
“I’m Watching” called on the government’s presidency to enable it to carry out an inspection process to verify the information integrity of the platform, and the extent to which the personal data of its participants is respected.