Tunisia democracy in crisis after President Kais Saied ousts government

Tunisia faced its biggest crisis in a decade of democracy on Monday after President Kais Saied ousted the government along with froze the activities of parliament, a move his foes labelled a coup which should be opposed on the street.

In a statement late on Sunday, Saied invoked the constitution to dismiss Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi along with decree a freeze of the parliament for a period of 30 days, saying he might govern alongside a completely new premier.

The move came after a day of protests against the government along with the biggest party in parliament, the moderate Islamist Ennahda, following a spike in Covid-19 cases along with growing anger over chronic political dysfunction along with economic malaise.

which poses the greatest challenge yet to Tunisia after its 2011 revolution which triggered the “Arab spring” along with ousted an autocracy in favour of democratic rule, although which failed to deliver sound governance or prosperity.

People celebrate inside the street after Tunisian President Kais Saied announced the dissolution of parliament along with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi's government in Tunis on July 25, 2021.

Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images

People celebrate inside the street after Tunisian President Kais Saied announced the dissolution of parliament along with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi’s government in Tunis on July 25, 2021.

inside the hours after Saied’s announcement, huge crowds gathered in his support in Tunis along with various other cities, cheering, dancing along with ululating while the military blocked off the parliament along with state television station.

Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, the head of Ennahda, which has played a role in successive coalition governments, decried the moves as a coup along with an assault on democracy.

inside the early hours of Monday, Ghannouchi arrived at the parliament where he said he might call a session in defiance of Saied, although the army stationed outside the building stopped the 80-year-old former political exile coming from entering.

“I am against gathering all powers inside the hands of one person,” he said outside the parliament building. He earlier called Tunisians to come onto the streets, as they had done on the day of the revolution in 2011, to oppose the move.

Dozens of Ennahda supporters faced off against Saied supporters near the parliament building, exchanging insults as the police held them apart, televised pictures afterwards showed.

Saied, a political independent who swept to office in 2019 after campaigning as the scourge of a corrupt, incompetent elite, rejected accusations which he had conducted a coup.

He said his actions were based on Article 80 of the constitution along with framed them as a common response to the economic along with political paralysis which have mired Tunisia for years.

However, a special court required by the 2014 constitution to adjudicate such disputes between Tunisia’s branches of state has never been established after years of wrangling over which judges to include, allowing rival interpretations of law.

President of the Republic of Tunisia Kais Saied received at the Royal Palace in Brussels, Belgium on June 3, 2021

Olivier Matthys/Getty Images

President of the Republic of Tunisia Kais Saied received at the Royal Palace in Brussels, Belgium on June 3, 2021

Two of the various other main parties in parliament, Heart of Tunisia along with Karama, joined Ennahda in accusing Saied of a coup. Former president Moncef Marzouki who helped oversee the transition to democracy after the revolution said which could represent the start of a slope “into an even worse situation”.

Saied, in his statement announcing the dismissal of Mechichi along with the freezing of parliament, said he had also suspended the legal immunity of parliament members along with which he was taking control of the general prosecutor’s office.

He warned against any armed response to his actions. “Whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets,” said Saied, who has support coming from a wide array of Tunisians including both Islamists along with leftists.

Supporters of Tunisia's President Kais Saied gather on the streets as they celebrate after he dismissed the government along with froze parliament, in Tunis, Tunisia on July 25, 2021.

Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters

Supporters of Tunisia’s President Kais Saied gather on the streets as they celebrate after he dismissed the government along with froze parliament, in Tunis, Tunisia on July 25, 2021.

Crowds numbering inside the tens of thousands backing the president stayed on the streets of Tunis along with various other cities, with some people setting off fireworks, for hours after his announcement as helicopters circled overhead.

“We have been relieved of them,” said Lamia Meftahi, a woman celebrating in central Tunis after Saied’s statement, speaking of the parliament along with government. “which is usually the happiest moment since the revolution.”

although news organization Al Jazeera said Tunisian security forces stormed its Tunis bureau along with expelled all of their staff on Monday.

The network’s bureau chief Lutfi Hajji said live on air which around 20 security forces in civil clothing came to the office building. When Hajji asked the security forces where the order was coming coming from along with why no formal papers were presented, they only said they had an order to close down the office.

“which was an arbitrary move along with we are prevented coming from entering the office, they took out office keys along with closed the office along with we weren’t able to take out our belongings,” Hajji said into the cameras during the dramatic exchange.

The president along with the parliament were both elected in separate common votes in 2019, while Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi took office last summer, replacing another short-lived government.

Meanwhile the parliamentary election delivered a fragmented chamber in which no party held more than a quarter of seats.

The president has been enmeshed in political disputes with Mechichi for a year, as the country grapples with an economic crisis, a looming fiscal crunch along having a flailing response to the pandemic.

which has been exacerbated in recent weeks, with Tunisia enduring its worst spike of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began over the course of July.

completely new infections have slowed since a high of over 9,000 daily completely new cases inside the middle of the month, although the crisis has placed Tunisia’s health-care system under immense pressure along with forced Saied to request critical medical aid coming from neighboring nations including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt along with Libya earlier which month.

The UAE sent 500,000 vaccines to the country along with Syria sent doses, ventilators, oxygen concentrators, medical beds along with PPE, its state-run SPA agency said at the time. Qatar sent a field hospital, while Libya shut its borders with Tunisia over concerns about the spread of the Delta variant.

Under the constitution, the president has direct responsibility only for foreign affairs along with the military, although after a government debacle with walk-in vaccination centers last week, he told the army to take charge of the pandemic response.

Tunisia’s soaring infection along with death rates have added to public anger at the government as the country’s political parties bickered.

Meanwhile, Mechichi was attempting to negotiate a completely new loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which was seen as crucial to averting a looming fiscal crisis as Tunisia struggles to finance its budget deficit along with coming debt repayments.

Disputes over the economic reforms, seen as needed to secure the loan although which could hurt ordinary Tunisians by ending subsidies or cutting public sector jobs, had already brought the government close to collapse.

CNN’s Mostafa Salem contributed reporting

Source : Tunisia democracy in crisis after President Kais Saied ousts government