WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, released the following statement on Tunisia’s referendum to adopt a new constitution that greatly expands presidential powers:

“When I traveled to Tunisia last year, I pressed President Saied on his plan for restoring representative democracya cause to which he claimed to be committed. Instead, he has taken every opportunity since then to unilaterally expand his authority, culminating in this new referendum: a vote to approve a constitution that embraces authoritarianism and threatens the freedoms Tunisians fought hard to secure,” said Murphy. “Although the preliminary results indicate overwhelming support for the new constitution, the low turnout level makes clear that many Tunisians have deep misgivings about the path Saied is taking their country down. The United States cannot stand on the sidelines as Saied continues to centralize power, and that’s why it’s critical that the Senate act swiftly to confirm President Biden’s nominee to be our ambassador in Tunis.”

Earlier this year, Murphy met with members of the Tunisian-American community and released a statement on the Tunisian President Saeid’s move to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council. Last year, Murphy led a congressional delegation to Tunisia where he met with President Kais Saied, representatives of civil society organizations, and members of parliament to express support for the Tunisian people’s goal of a democratic government.