New Tunisian parliament begins its first session

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Tunisia’s new parliament, elected in December and January in a vote with a turnout of 11 percent, sat for the first time on Monday in a session closed to all but state media and with the opposition coalition saying it would not recognize its legitimacy.

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Journalists were not allowed to attend the opening session of parliament for the first time since the 2011 revolution. Officials told reporters on Monday that only state TV and radio and the state news agency were allowed to cover the event.

President Kais Saied shut down the previous elected parliament in July 2021, moving to rule by decree in a move that opposition parties called a coup. He has said his actions were legal and needed to save Tunisia from years of crisis.

The new parliament, operating under a constitution that Saied wrote last year and which was passed in a referendum with a turnout of 30 percent, will have very little power compared with the body it replaces.

As most parties boycotted the election, and candidates were listed on ballot papers without party affiliation, most of the new parliament members are political independents.

The National Salvation Front, the main opposition coalition that includes Tunisia’s biggest party, the Islamist Ennahda and activists, said in a statement on Monday it would not recognize a parliament emanating from a coup following elections that were boycotted by the majority.

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