Tunisia’s head of state Kaïs Saïed has dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspended the work of parliament. Clashes broke out in the capital Tunis. Critics speak of a coup.
The situation in Tunisia is tense following the ousting of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi. The parliament in the capital Tunis was surrounded by security forces on Monday. Upset protesters moved there and demanded access. Some tried to climb over the gate. Clashes also broke out in the process.
The leader of the ruling Ennahdha party, Rached Ghannouchi, held a sit-in outside parliament. Ghannouchi, who is also speaker of parliament, had been prevented from entering parliament by the army on Monday morning.
Earlier, President Kais Saied fired the head of government and froze the work of parliament for an initial 30 days. In addition, the immunity of all MPs would also be lifted, Saied announced on Sunday evening after a meeting with military representatives.
The former law professor assured that he would act within the framework of the constitution. Critics, however, speak of a coup. Protests have been taking place in the North African country for days because of sharply rising Corona numbers and the ongoing economic crisis.
Supporters of President Saied celebrated in the streets at night. Some of them lit flares and fireworks and waved flags. Some sang the national anthem. Videos also showed military vehicles driving through clapping groups.
Saied also showed up in the center of Tunis that night to greet his supporters. It was not a coup, the president, who has been in office since 2019, assured. “How can a coup be based on the law?” Saied professed to be within the legal framework. Referring to possible unrest, he said, “I don’t want a single drop of blood spilled.” However, he added, violence would be immediately met with force from the security forces.
Tunisia is currently experiencing a sharp increase in corona cases. So far, 555,000 corona infections and about 18,000 deaths have been reported. The country has been the only country in the region to transition to democracy since the Arab uprisings of 2011. However, it continues to struggle with an economic crisis, high unemployment and widespread corruption. Many Tunisians have lost confidence in the ruling elite.