Tunisian President Kajs Saied recalled Prime Minister Hisham Meshishi’s government and suspended parliament. This is a reaction to anti-government protests in many cities. – I made these decisions to save Tunisia and the Tunisian people – he argued. The president’s opponents accused him of a coup d’état.
Saied has announced that he will take over executive power in the country and will appoint a new prime minister. – The constitution does not allow parliament to be dissolved, but it allows its activities to be frozen – said the president and spoke about “the impending threat”, referring to the peak of the coronavirus epidemic and the related deep economic crisis.
– In line with the constitution, I have taken the decisions the situation requires to save Tunisia and the Tunisian people. We are going through a very difficult moment in Tunisian history, Saied said.
Sunday’s protests were called by activists on social media and were not backed by any of the major political parties. Most of the demonstrators turned their anger towards the moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, the largest group in parliament.
“Many people have been deceived by hypocrisy, betrayal and the robbery of the rights of the people,” Saied said in a statement in the state media. – I warn anyone who thinks about taking up a gun. If someone fires a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets, ‘he warned.
Shortly after the announcement was made, crowds of people again appeared on the streets of Tunis in support of the president. “This is the happiest moment since the revolution,” said the demonstrators.
The president’s opponents talk about a coup d’état
The president’s opponents talk about a coup d’état. Parliamentary Speaker Rashed Ghannuczi, head of Ennahda, accused the Saied of “carrying out a coup against the revolution and the constitution.” “We believe that the most important state institutions continue to function and that supporters of Ennahda and the Tunisian people will defend the revolution,” he said.
In 2011, during the Arab Spring, Tunisians freed themselves from the autocratic rule of General Zajn al-Abidin ibn Ali, introducing a democratic system in the country, which, however, did not bring economic prosperity. Years of political paralysis, corruption, declining state services and rising unemployment have discouraged Tunisians from the prevailing political system, and the coronavirus pandemic has deepened public discontent.
Main photo source: EPA / MOHAMED MESSARA