Supporters of Tunisia’s largest political social gathering, the reasonable Islamist Ennahda, take cowl from stones thrown at them by supporters of President Kais Saied, exterior the parliament constructing in Tunis, Tunisia July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi
July 27, 2021
By Tarek Amara and Angus McDowall
TUNIS (Reuters) -Tunisia is dealing with its worst disaster in a decade of democracy on Monday after President Kais Saied ousted the federal government and suspended parliament with assist from the military, a transfer denounced as a coup by the nation’s principal events, together with Islamists.
Saied’s motion adopted months of impasse and disputes pitting him in opposition to Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and a fragmented parliament, as Tunisia descended into an financial disaster exacerbated by considered one of Africa’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks.
The disaster morphed into heated avenue confrontations as Saied’s critics, together with Islamists, warned he was endangering the democratic system launched after the 2011 Arab Spring rebellion.
Saied invoked emergency powers beneath the structure late on Sunday to dismiss Mechichi and droop parliament for 30 days.
After the parliament speaker referred to as for protests in opposition to the ousting, Saied prolonged present COVID-19 restrictions on motion on Monday and vowed any violent opposition might be met with drive. He has rejected accusations of a coup.
The president additionally urged individuals not to enter the streets. “I name on the Tunisian individuals to remain calm and never reply to provocations,” he mentioned.
The White Home mentioned it had not but decided whether or not Saied’s actions constituted a coup. Nevertheless, the U.S. State Division warned Tunisia to not “squander its democratic features.”
FEUDING SIDES TAKE TO STREETS
Rival teams confronted off exterior the parliament constructing on Monday, pelting one another with stones and hurling insults, however the dimension of the protests was restricted to lots of, and there have been no main reported incidents of violence.
The army surrounded the parliament and authorities palace, stopping members of parliament and state staff from coming into the buildings, in addition to the nationwide tv station. Al-Jazeera mentioned police raided its Tunis bureau and expelled workers.
President Saied additionally bolstered a protracted present rule that bans public gatherings of three or extra individuals in streets or squares.
Saied’s intervention adopted protests in main cities on Sunday over the federal government’s dealing with of the pandemic, with a spike in circumstances, and economic system.
Giant crowds shortly poured into the streets to help his strikes, reflecting anger on the reasonable Islamist Ennahda – the largest social gathering in parliament – and the federal government over political paralysis, financial stagnation and the pandemic response.
The economic system shrank 8% final 12 months. Tunisia has one of many highest COVID-19 loss of life charges within the area. On Monday, Tunisia’s hard-currency bonds tumbled.
Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, the top of Ennahda, which has performed a job in successive coalition governments, condemned it as an assault on democracy and urged Tunisians to take to the streets in opposition.
“Kais Saied is dragging the nation into disaster,” he informed Turkish tv.
Mechichi, who’s at his residence and never beneath arrest, a supply near him mentioned, mentioned in a press release he wouldn’t be a “disruptive ingredient” and was prepared handy over energy to whomever Saied appointed.
Saied, who has not mentioned when he’ll appoint a brand new premier or relinquish emergency powers, has additionally ordered that state administrations and international establishments cease work for 2 days.
Although it has didn’t ship prosperity or good governance, Tunisia’s democratic experiment since 2011 has stood in stark distinction to the destiny of different international locations the place Arab Spring revolts led to bloody crackdowns and civil warfare.
Exterior parliament, supporters of Saied and Ennahda hurled insults and bottles at one another.
A younger Saied supporter who gave his title as Ayman mentioned he was against Ennahda – a celebration as soon as near the Muslim Brotherhood.
“We’re right here to guard Tunisia. We’ve got seen all of the tragedies beneath the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he mentioned, referring to the Islamist motion based in Egypt in 1928 which impressed Sunni Islamists throughout the Arab world.
Imed Ayadi, an Ennahda member, likened Saied to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who deposed the Brotherhood’s elected former President Mohamed Mursi and banned the group in 2013. In recent times, Ennahda has sought to distance itself from the Brotherhood.
“Saied is a brand new Sisi who desires to gather all authority for himself …We’ll stand as much as the coup in opposition to the revolution,” Ayadi mentioned.
Saied has framed his actions as a constitutional and widespread response to years of financial and political paralysis, and mentioned Article 80 of the structure gave him energy to dismiss the federal government, appoint a short lived administration, freeze parliament and carry the immunity of its members.
Ennahda and the opposite main events disputed his interpretation of the foundations and Ghannouchi has denied being consulted.
Two of the opposite principal events in parliament, Coronary heart of Tunisia and Karama, joined Ennahda in accusing Saied of a coup.
Regional allies of Ennahda, together with Turkey, decried Saied’s strikes as a coup.
(Reporting by Tarek Amara and Mohamed Argoubi in Tunis, further reporting by Robin Emmot in Brussels and Holger Hansen in Berlin, Nadine Awadalla, Nayera Abdallah and Alaa Swilam in Cairo and Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington D.C.; writing by Angus McDowall/Tom Perry, modifying by Lincoln Feast, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Timothy Heritage, and Aurora Ellis)