Tunisia’s president Kais Saied suspended the parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Sunday (July 25) in a move condemned as an attack on democracy by his opponents while his supporters flooded the capital and other cities to celebrate.
Saied, 63, who has been enmeshed in political disputes with Mechichi for more than a year, said he would assume executive authority with the assistance of a new prime minister.
The President who was elected in 2019, said in his statement carried on state media that his actions were in line with the constitution, and cited article 80 to suspend the immunity of members of parliament.
“The constitution does not allow for the dissolution of parliament, but it does allow for its work to be suspended,” Saied, a former constitutional lawyer, said.
“Many people were deceived by hypocrisy, treachery and robbery of the rights of the people,”he added. “I warn any who think of resorting to weapons … and whoever shoots a bullet, the armed forces will respond with bullets.”
The move came after violent protests broke out in several Tunisian cities against the ruling party
which they accused of economic mismanagement, corruption and failure to handle the Covid-19 crisis. Disputes over the economic reforms had already brought the government close to collapse.
Tunisian Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi accused the president of mounting “a coup against the revolution and constitution”.
“We consider the institutions to be still standing and supporters of Ennahda and the Tunisian people will defend the revolution,” Ghannouchi, leader of the moderate Islamist ruling Ennahda party, the biggest in Parliament, told Reuters.
Two other parties, Heart of Tunisia and Karama, echoed the coup accusations.
The Tunisian Revolution, or Jasmine Revolution, was a popular uprising in Tunisia that protested against corruption, poverty, and political repression and forced President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to step down in January 2011. Tunisia’s revolution triggerred uprisings across the Arab world.
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With reporting by Reuters, Al Jazeera