The state body has rejected President Saied's decision to dissolve the council, saying it will continue carrying out its work despite pressure.

President Saied's order is the latest in his consolidation of power.
President Saied's order is the latest in his consolidation of power. (Reuters)

Tunisia's Supreme Judiciary Council has rejected President Kais Saied's decision to dissolve it and said it would continue carrying out its duties.

The council also said on Sunday that it rejected pressure on and accusations against members of the council and judges.

Tunisia's top judge accused Saied of illegally undermining the judiciary's independence and warned that judges "will not stay silent".

In the first public reaction by members of the Supreme Judicial Council, its head, Youssef Bouzakher, said the move represented an attempt to bring judges under presidential instruction.

"The president's decision is illegal and a direct assimilation of the presidency," he said by phone to Reuters. 

Tunisia's Young Magistrates Association also voiced its opposition to the president's move, warning that it was part of a political purge of the judiciary.

READ MORE: Tunisia's Saied dissolves Supreme Judicial Council

Latest consolidation of power

Saied dissolved the Council overnight, the latest move in his consolidation of power after dismissing the parliament and sacking the prime minister in July and promising to remake the democratic constitution in moves his critics call a coup.

The Council was a rare state body that could still exert influence independent of Saied, who has for months criticised the judiciary for delays in rulings on corruption and terrorism cases. 

Saied has repeatedly said that the judiciary should remember it represents a function of the state rather than being the state itself.

In January, he revoked financial privileges for the council's members, accusing the independent body established in 2016 of appointing judges to their positions based on loyalty to its leadership.

"Their place is not where they sit now, but where the accused stand," Saied said of the council members in his overnight speech, delivered from the building of the Interior Ministry, which oversees Tunisia's security forces.

Several hundred people protested against the council on Sunday outside its headquarters, a rally encouraged by Saied.

READ MORE: President Saied's 'online consultation' leaves Tunisians on edge

Source: TRTWorld and agencies