TUNIS, Tunisia 

Foreign ambassadors to Tunisia on Tuesday voiced concern over plans by Tunisian President Kais Saied to dissolve the country’s Supreme Judicial Council.

“A transparent, independent and efficient judiciary and the separation of powers are essential for a functioning democracy,” said a joint statement issued by the diplomatic missions of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain, the US and the European Union.

On Monday, Saied said he has prepared a decree to dissolve the council, which he described as a place “where positions and appointments are sold according to loyalties.”

The council is an independent constitutional body whose tasks include ensuring the independence of the judiciary, holding judges accountable, and granting them professional promotions.

On Sunday, the judicial council condemned Saied’s plans to dissolve it as “unconstitutional”.

Tension has marred Saied’s relations with the council, with the Tunisian leader criticizing the judiciary over delays in issuing rulings in cases of corruption and terrorism.

Last July, Saied dismissed the government, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority amid mounting public anger over economic stagnation and political paralysis.

While Saied insists that his “exceptional measures” were meant to “save” the country, critics have accused him of orchestrating a coup.

Tunisia has been seen as the only country that succeeded in carrying out a democratic transition among Arab countries which witnessed popular revolutions toppling ruling regimes, including Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar

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