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BREAKING: Tunisia’s President Sacks Parliament And PM

Kais Saied
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied

July 26, (THEWILL) – Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has suspended the Legislature and fired the Prime Minister following violent nationwide protests.

The President cited concerns about violence as the reason for his decision, and warned against any breach of public order, threatening troublemakers with severe penalties.

“We have taken these decisions … until social peace returns to Tunisia and until we save the state,” the President said in a televised address.

He invoked an article of Tunisia’s Constitution allowing him to take “exceptional measures in the event of imminent danger threatening the institutions of the nation and the independence of the country and hindering the regular functioning of the public powers.”

The measure allows him to assume Executive power and freeze Parliament for an unspecified period of time until normal institutional workings can be restored.

Protesters celebrated President Saied’s decision late Sunday night, shouting with joy, honking horns and waving Tunisian flags.

But his critics accused him of a power grab that threatens Tunisia’s young democracy. Chief among them was the Parliament Speaker and head of Islamist movement Ennahdha, Rached Ghannouchi, who called it “a coup against the Constitution and the (Arab Spring) revolution.”

Ghannouchi said the President didn’t consult with him and the Prime Minister as required by the article. The three have been in conflict.

Others also criticized the President’s decision.

Former President Moncef Marzouki called for political dialogue, saying in a Facebook video, “We made a huge leap backward tonight, we are back to dictatorship.”

After the announcement of the President’s decision, army units were deployed around the capital and the Parliament.

During the night, Parliament’s Speaker, Ghannouchi, tried to enter with an associate but was blocked.

He insisted the Parliament would continue to work despite the President’s move, according to Mosaique FM news radio

Thousands of people defied virus restrictions and scorching heat to demonstrate Sunday in the capital, Tunis, and other cities.

The largely young crowds shouted “Get out!” and slogans calling for the dissolution of Parliament and early elections. Clashes erupted in many places.

Tunisia’s economy has been struggling for years, and the country recently re-imposed lockdowns and other virus restrictions because it’s facing one of Africa’s worst virus outbreaks.