Tunisian president sets curfew | free press

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Does Kais Saied want to stabilize Tunisia’s shaky democracy? Or is it a coup? The situation remains confusing.

Tunis (AP) – Tunisian President Kais Saied has defended the takeover of government affairs against criticism and wants to maintain order in the country with a temporary ban on meetings and a curfew.

This must apply every day until the end of August from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. In addition, any public gathering of more than three people is prohibited. The powerless Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi announced that he would hand over his office to the successor appointed by Saied.

Critics speak of a coup

Surprisingly, Saied had dropped Mechichi, who also headed the Interior Ministry, on Sunday night. He also lifted the immunity of all MPs and closed parliament for the first 30 days. He also fired Defense Minister Ibrahim Bartagi and incumbent Justice Minister Hasna Ben Slimane. Critics, including the Islamist conservative Ennahda party, speak of a coup.

At a meeting with the influential associations and trade unions in Tunisia, Saied rejected this claim. The real danger includes the precarious economic situation and the slow progress of vaccinations against the coronavirus.

Fight against the coronavirus

“Isn’t the disintegration of the country an imminent threat?” Saied wondered. The former law professor states that he falls within the legal framework of the constitution. Critics claim he has exceeded his authority.

Tunisia had already imposed a curfew several times in recent months in the fight against the virus. Thousands of new infections are reported every day in the country of eleven million people. About a third of all corona tests are positive. About 19,000 people died related to Covid-19 in Tunisia.

Committed international community

The United Nations called on all those involved in Tunisia to exercise restraint. Turkey expressed “deep concern” about the abolition of parliamentary work. “Tunisia must not waste its progress on democratization,” said US government spokeswoman Jen Psaki. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin also announced that it is monitoring developments in Tunisia “with concern”. The country must “quickly return to constitutional order”.