Tunisian President Kais Saied announced yesterday the suspension of the country’s parliament and the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi following a day of protests against the ruling party.
Saied announced the moves following an emergency meeting at his palace after thousands of Tunisians marched in several cities protesting about government failures in the North African nation and crippling coronavirus rates.
President Saied said he would assume executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister, prompting the biggest challenge yet to a 2014 constitution that split powers between president, prime minister and parliament. “Many people were deceived by hypocrisy, treachery and robbery of the rights of the people,” he said in a statement carried on state media.
“I warn any who think of resorting to weapons... and whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets,” he added.
Saied has been enmeshed in political disputes with Prime Minister Mechichi for over a year, as the country grapples with an economic crisis, a looming fiscal crunch and a flailing response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said in his statement that his actions were in line with the constitution, and also suspended the immunity of members of parliament.
Saied and the parliament were both elected in separate popular votes in 2019, while Mechichi took office last summer, replacing another short-lived government.
Tunisian Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi accused President Kais Saied of launching “a coup against the revolution and constitution” after Saied said he had frozen parliament and dismissed the government.
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