Hours after President Kais Saied announced that he had fired Prime Minister Hishem Machichi and suspended parliament for 30 days, Tunisian troops blocked parliamentary leaders from entering the building early Monday.
Mr. Saeed, a political independent, said he was acting in response to the country’s economic hardships and political impasses, adding that the country’s constitution empowered him.
The move follows weeks of political turmoil in the country, in part fueling public anger at the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rached Ghannouchi, chairman of the parliament and leader of the dominant Nafda party, called the president’s actions a “coup” and said parliament would continue its activities.
The other two major parties in Congress also called it a coup, which the president rejected.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States is closely monitoring progress and that solutions to Tunisia’s political and economic problems should be based on the national constitution.
“Tunisia should not waste democratic interests,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Monday.
US House of Representatives Gregory Meeks and Ted Doichi, chairman of the Middle East, North Africa and World Terrorism Countermeasures Subcommittee, said they were “seriously concerned” about what happened in Tunisia.
“We call on all parties to respect and comply with the rule of law,” they said in a statement on Monday.
Saeed’s announcement attracted a crowd of demonstrators to the streets of the capital, Tunis, and elsewhere to celebrate, reflecting people’s anger at Congress to tackle national issues.
Outside the Capitol, there were protesters who opposed the president’s actions, causing clashes between opposing groups.
Tunisian officials have stopped live broadcasting of Qatar’s Al Jazeera TV, claiming that its correspondent appears to be urging a small crowd of protesters to oppose the government. Broadcasters reported that the office in the capital of Tunisia was closed and journalists were not allowed access.
Tunisia has been struggling financially for years, dealing with political challenges as well as the proliferation of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
“Most Tunisians are badly hurt by the ongoing economic crisis and high unemployment, so the issue of parliamentary suspension could provoke a strong negative reaction,” said political analyst Amin Mustafa. It’s low, “he told VOA.
The influential Tunisian Labor Union declared on Monday that it considers “all measures taken by the president are legal.”
Edward Yeranian of Cairo contributed to this report. Some information in this report was provided by The Associated Press, AFP, and Reuters.
Tunisian President Suspended Parliament | Voice of America
Source link Tunisian President Suspended Parliament | Voice of America