Tunisian president suspends parliament, fires PM; world concerned on turmoil

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Tunis

Tunisia was plunged deeper into crisis as President Kais Saied suspended parliament and dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi late Sunday, prompting the country’s biggest political party to decry a “coup d’etat”.

The move — a decade on from Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, held up as the sole success story of the Arab spring — comes despite presidential powers being largely confined to security and diplomacy under a constitution that enshrines a parliamentary democracy.

It also comes after a prolonged period of deadlock between the president, prime minister and legislature, which has crippled management of a coronavirus crisis that has seen deaths surge to among the highest per capita rates in the world.

After Saied announced parliament’s suspension following an emergency meeting at his palace, hundreds took to the streets of the capital in celebration, filling the air with the sound of car horns and fireworks.

“Finally some good decisions!” Maher, celebrating in Tunis’ northwest in defiance of a coronavirus curfew, told AFP.

Before Saeid’s announcement, thousands of Tunisians had marched in several cities protesting against the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha, criticising the largest party in Tunisia’s fractious government for failures in tackling the pandemic.

Tunisian President Kais Saied’s decision to suspend parliament and dimiss his prime minister sparked protests at home where the biggest political party decried it as a “coup”.

Foreign governments also voiced concern. Here are some reactions from countries around the world to Sunday’s shock announcement.

The foreign ministry said it was “deeply concerned” by the latest development in Tunisia and called for the restoration of “democratic legitimacy”.

“The preservation of Tunisia’s democratic achievements, which is a success story in terms of the democratic process conducted in line with the expectations of people in the region, is of great importance for the region as well as for Tunisia,” the ministry said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, tweeted: “We reject the suspension of the democratic process and the disregard of the people’s democratic will in friendly and brotherly Tunisia.

“We condemn initiatives that lack constitutional legitimacy and public support. We believe Tunisia democracy will emerge stronger from this process.”—APP

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