Tunisian President Kais Saied on Wednesday downplayed the massive abstention in the recent legislative elections and violently attacked his critics who denounce a decline in freedoms in the country since he monopolized powers.
The electoral authority in Tunisia officially announced a turnout of 11.22% in the December 17 legislative elections, up slightly from the preliminary figure of 8.8% made public after the polls closed.
This participation, by far the lowest since the revolution that overthrew the dictatorship in 2011, was interpreted as a snub for Kais Saied, the new Parliament without any real powers being the last edifice of the hyper-presidentialist system that he is putting in place place since its July 2021 coup.
“A participation rate of 9% or 12% is preferable to that of 99% which was announced in previous elections hailed by foreign capitals knowing that they were rigged”said Kais Saied during a meeting at the Carthage Palace with the head of government Najla Bouden, several ministers, including that of Defense, and security officials.
He also violently attacked his opponents and detractors, without ever mentioning them by name, accusing them of “undermining the state and its symbols”an act which he considers to be similar to “a conspiracy against the internal and external security of the State”.
“This cannot continue and these people cannot remain unpunished within the framework of the law”he added in a very vehement tone, according to a video of the meeting released by the presidency.
He also accused his opponents of orchestrating the recurrent shortages of certain basic food products that Tunisia has been experiencing for several months, in order to use them “to pit the citizens against the institutions of the State”.
Kais Saied also denied any decline in freedoms and rights in Tunisia since his coup, describing as “mercenaries” those who criticize him on this front.