Case Said: Politburo outsider accused of coup d’etat | Political News


The president is accused of attacking Tunisian democracy after firing the Tunisian prime minister and the suspension of the parliament.

The President of Tunisia described his election victory in 2019 as “like a new revolution”-on Sunday night, he sacked the government and frozen the parliament to bring a large number of supporters to the streets in a move called a coup by his enemies.

Kais Saied, 63 years old, politically independent, former constitutional lawyer, publicly awkward, prefers super-formal classical Arabic speech style, and is now the undisputed center of Tunisian politics.

Nearly two years after his election and separate voting caused a severely divided parliament, he sidelined both the prime minister and the speaker of the parliament. Critics viewed this move as an unconstitutional seizure of power.

However, when tens of thousands of people flocked to the streets of major cities to celebrate, Said seemed to be setting off a wave of anger against political elites who had failed to deliver on the promised democratic gains over the years.

Since the Tunisian revolution in 2011, the Speaker of Parliament Rached Ghannouchi has been affected by the chaotic compromise of democratic politics for 10 years, and Said entered the stage as a relatively new person in 2019.

During the campaign, he presented himself as an ordinary person who accepted the corrupt system. He participated in the election without spending money and had a backbone team composed of consultants and volunteers-winning the leftists , Islamists and young people’s support.

His supporters said that he spent very little money in the election, only the price of coffee and cigarettes he drank when meeting with Tunisians, and regarded him as a model of personal integrity.

After Tunisian President Keith Said announced the dissolution of Parliament and the government of Prime Minister Hichem Mecic, people celebrated in the streets [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

After being elected, he seemed to be bound by the constitution for a while, which gave the president direct powers only in military and foreign affairs, while day-to-day management was left to the government that is more responsible to the parliament.

Said made no secret of his hope that the new constitution will put the president at the center stage — prompting critics to accuse him of wanting to imitate Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi to deprive his enemies of power.

Power struggle

As president, Said quickly quarreled with the two prime ministers who eventually emerged from the complex alliance building process-first Elyes Fakhfakh and then Hichem Mechichi.

However, the biggest controversy occurred between the moderate Islamic Baath Party and its senior leader Ganucci, who was a political prisoner and exile and returned to Tunisia in 2011.

In the past year, with the support of Ganucci, Saeed and Mecchi have quarreled over the reorganization of the cabinet and the control of the security forces, which has complicated efforts to respond to the pandemic and resolve the imminent financial crisis.

However, as the protests erupted in January, it was the government and parliament’s old parties that faced public outrage—a wave of anger finally broke out last week with the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Efforts to establish a walk-in vaccination center failed, leading to Said’s announcement last week that the army would take over the pandemic response — a move critics saw as the latest step in his struggle with government power.

After the protests against Ennahda in cities across the country, this laid the foundation for his announcement on Sunday.

People took to the streets to celebrate the downfall of the government, but the demonstrators also wanted social and economic reforms [Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters]

During the 2011 revolution, his students and friends said that he often walked in the narrow streets of Tunisian old towns and the magnificent colonial boulevards in the city center late at night to discuss politics with students.

Said was one of the legal advisers who helped draft Tunisia’s 2014 democratic constitution, although he quickly opposed the content of the document.

Now, some of the leading political heirs of the Tunisian revolution regard him as an executioner-calling him an attack on democracy by dissolving the government and freezing the parliament.





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