Does Kais Saied want to stabilize the shaky democracy in Tunisia? Or is it a coup? The situation is confusing, but seems to calm down.
Tunis (AP) – In Tunisia, the situation has apparently calmed down after Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi was ousted on Tuesday.
In the capital Tunis, the parliament building and main government facilities were still surrounded by security forces. President Kais Saied has also ordered that all work in public institutions be suspended for two days. A curfew will apply again until the end of August. This has already been done several times to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Tunisia’s largest party, Islamist conservative Ennahda, on Tuesday called for a national dialogue to end the political crisis and find solutions to pressing economic and social problems. At the same time, she admitted in a statement that she supported recent protests that criticized the government, including calling for the dissolution of parliament. The protesters had legitimate demands that required solutions, it was now said.
Ennahda also called on Saied to go back on Sunday on his decision to suspend parliament’s work for the time being. Parliament Speaker and Ennahda Chief Rached Ghannouchi is also currently banned from the building. The military and security forces must stay out of the political dispute, it also said.
Saied had surprisingly fired Prime Minister Mechichi on Sunday evening and suspended the work of the parliament. Mechichi stated that he wanted to transfer the responsibility to a successor at the behest of the president. “I can never be a disruptive factor or part of the problem that complicates the situation,” he assured him late Monday night. He will abdicate the responsibility to “protect the safety of all Tunisians”. The announcement was his first public statement after he was removed from power.
Mechichi took office as prime minister in September 2020. He had the support of the two strongest parties in parliament, Ennahda and “Kalb Tounes” (heart of Tunisia). Like Mechichi, the two sides are at odds with President Saied. Tensions between Saied and Mechichi had risen after the president in January refused to swear in nearly a dozen new ministers.