Hundreds of Tunisians protest against presidential ‘coup’
More than 1,000 Tunisians gathered on Sunday near the country’s parliament to protest a presidential power grab they have deemed a “coup”.
It was the latest rally opposing President Kais Saied’s July 25 decision to sack the government, suspend parliament and seize an array of powers, citing an “imminent threat” to the country — birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings against autocracy.
Protesters shouted, “The people want to bring down the coup d’etat” and branded the president an “agent of colonialism”, AFP correspondents reported.
Some carried signs reading “No to the intimidation of the media” and demanding “an independent judicial authority”.
On September 22, Saied suspended parts of the constitution and installed rule by decree, maintaining full control of the judiciary as well as powers to sack ministers and issue laws.
He appointed a new government in October, with Najla Bouden as the North African country’s first female prime minister.
But he has significantly pared back the powers of her office and will technically head the administration himself.
Saied, who was elected in late 2019, made his shock move amid a socio-economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of his opponents have accused him of seeking a new dictatorship, a decade after Tunisia’s 2011 revolt that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
But the president’s supporters say his moves were needed after years of deadlock among political parties seen as corrupt and self-serving.