Tensions in Tunisia after the President suspends parliament
After the President of Tunisia suspended the legislature and fired the prime minister, the army surrounded the Tunisian parliament and prevented its speaker from entering Monday, after the country’s economic difficulties and the coronavirus crisis triggered nationwide protests.
Late on Sunday night, protesters celebrated President Keith Said’s decision with cheers, honking and waving Tunisian flags. But his critics accuse him of grabbing power and threatening Tunisia’s young democracy, and the North African country’s overseas allies are concerned about this.
The police intervened on Monday to prevent lawmakers from the Ennahdha Islamist party, which dominates the Tunisian People’s Congress, from clashing with demonstrators supporting the president outside the parliament building. According to the Associated Press reporter and the video circulating on the Internet, the two sides yelled and threw some stones.
According to a statement on the Facebook page of the Qatar-based network, security forces also went to the Tunisian office of Al Jazeera on Monday to order its closure. The reason for this is unclear.
‘go out! ‘
The dissolution of the parliament was one of thousands of protesters’ demands for ignoring virus restrictions and scorching heat to stage demonstrations in the capital Tunisia and other cities on Sunday. The predominantly young crowd chanted “Get out!” and slogans called for early elections and promote economic reforms. Conflicts broke out in many places.
Tunisia’s economy has been struggling for years, and the country has recently re-implemented blockades and other virus restrictions as it is facing one of the worst virus outbreaks in Africa.
The president said he had to fire the prime minister and adjourn the parliament because of fear of public violence.
“We have made these decisions…until Tunisia restores social peace and until we save the country,” he said in a military-style televised speech.
Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker of the parliament and leader of the Ennahdha party, tried to enter the parliament overnight, but the police and army guarding the site stopped him. On Monday morning, Ganucci was parked in a car in front of the building. His next move is unclear.
He called the president’s move “against the Constitution and [Arab Spring] Revolution” and insisted that Parliament will continue to operate.
Said defended his decision, saying in a statement on Monday that he was acting in accordance with the law.
Said visited the protesters overnight on Bourguiba Avenue, the capital’s main road, which was the center of mass demonstrations that overthrew Tunisian autocratic leaders and sparked uprisings in the Arab world in 2011.
He warned of any violation of public order and threatened severe punishment.
The President invoked a provision in the Tunisian Constitution that allowed him to “take special measures in imminent and dangerous situations that threaten national institutions and national independence and hinder the normal functioning of public power.”
Criticism from within Tunisia and elsewhere
This measure allows him to obtain executive power and freeze the parliament for an indefinite period of time until normal institutional operations can be resumed. But Ganucci said that the president did not negotiate with him and the prime minister as required by the article. The three have always had conflicts.
Others in and outside Tunisia also criticized the president’s decision.
Former President Moncef Mazuki called for political dialogue, saying in a Facebook video, “We made a huge leap tonight; we are back to dictatorship.”
European Commission spokesperson Nabila Massrali said in a written statement on Monday, “We call on all Tunisian actors to respect the Constitution, its institutions and the rule of law. We also call on them to remain calm and avoid litigation Any violence to ensure that the country’s stability is maintained.”
The Turkish government expressed its “deep concern” over the suspension of activities of the Tunisian parliament and expressed its hope that “democratic legitimacy” would be restored as soon as possible.
A statement from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Tunisia a “model success story in the democratic process” and stated that its “democratic achievements” must be retained. The Tunisian uprising in 2011 is often regarded as the only successful case of the Arab Spring protests.