President of Tunisia Kais Saied Wednesday fired 57 judges, accusing them of corruption, protection of terrorists and sexual harassment. Saied announced the decision in the nation’s Official Gazette. In a televised address, the president claimed that he repeatedly warned the judges to purify themselves of their vices, but they never ceased their actions. He insisted that it was not his intention to interfere with the judiciary.
Youssef Bouzaker, former head of the Supreme Judicial Council, was also relieved of his position. Bouzaker and the council were meant to ensure judicial independence but were fired and replaced by Saied’s allies.
Saied’s actions, combined with Tunisia’s current economic crisis, have led to discontent in Tunisia. Tunisia’s General Labor Union (UGTT) rejected several of the President’s decrees and announced that public sector workers will go on strike on June 16. Due to external pressure from Tunisia’s allies, Saied has organized a referendum to be held on July 25, 2022, in order to discuss political reforms and amendments of Tunisia’s constitution. The referendum will be followed by parliamentary elections on December 17, 2022.