After the Arab uprisings in 2011, Tunisia was the only country in the region to make the transition to democracy. But unemployment, corruption and the pandemic leave many Tunisians in doubt.
Tunis (AP) – Tunisian President Kais Saied has surprisingly removed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi from office, suspending the work of parliament for the time being.
Saied announced on Sunday evening after a crisis meeting with representatives of the army and security authorities that he would take over government affairs together with a new prime minister. In addition, the immunity of all MPs will be lifted.
Months of power struggle
«We are living one of the most sensitive moments in Tunisian history. They are indeed the most dangerous minutes,” Saied said in a short speech. He was seen at the head of a conference table, along with the military and officials.
“We work within the legal framework,” said Saied. A power struggle has been going on for months between former law professor Saied and Mechichi and parliament.
Pandemic plays a role
The announcements follow critical anti-government protests in various parts of the country over the sharp rise in the number of corona cases and an ongoing economic crisis. The protesters called for the resignation of the government and the dissolution of parliament.
Tunisia is currently experiencing a sharp rise in the number of corona cases. So far, 555,000 corona infections and about 18,000 deaths have been reported. Vaccinations are progressing slowly.
Democracy with starting problems
The Islamist conservative Ennahda, the country’s largest party, spoke of a “coup d’état” on Sunday evening. The Tunisians would defend the success of their “revolution,” Ennahda boss Rached Ghannouchi announced on Facebook — apparently in connection with the 2011 Arab uprisings. Saied, on the other hand, stated that the steps he announced were within the legal framework of the Constitution.
Since the Arab uprisings of 2011, the country has been the only country in the region to have made the transition to democracy. However, it still faces an economic crisis, high unemployment and widespread corruption. Many Tunisians have lost faith in the ruling elite.