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Key ally of Tunisia president quits post

Tunisian President Kais Saied's chief of staff announced Monday she would quit her post, six months after Saied sacked the government and seized sweeping powers.

A Tunisian man waves his country’s national flag during protests against President Kais Saied, on the 11th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution in the capital Tunis on January 14, 2022. – Tunisian police used teargas today against hundreds of demonstrators who had defied a ban on gatherings to protest against President Kais Saied’s July power grab. As the country marks 11 years since the fall of late dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, hundreds of Saied’s opponents staged rallies against his July 2021 power grab. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Tunisian President Kais Saied’s chief of staff announced Monday she would quit her post, six months after Saied sacked the government and seized sweeping powers.

“Today I decided to offer my resignation to the president,” Nadia Akacha wrote in a Facebook post.

“It has been my honour to work for the national interest… (but) today, given the presence of fundamental differences of opinion related to that interest, I see it as my duty to step down,” wrote Akacha, who like Saied is a specialist in constitutional law.

Saied on July 25 last year sacked the government of Hichem Mechichi and froze parliament before later moving to rule by decree in the only democracy to have emerged from the Arab Spring protests more than a decade ago.

Many Tunisians welcomed his moves against a political system described as corrupt and ineffective, in place since the country’s 2011 revolution.

But political figures and rights groups have warned of a slide towards authoritarianism.

Saied stressed Thursday that the country’s freedoms are “guaranteed” after rights groups warned of a threat signalled by the violent suppression of a protest against him.

Police had, days before, cracked down heavily against hundreds of Tunisians protesting what they call Saied’s “coup”.

Dozens were arrested and about 20 journalists were manhandled during the protest, in scenes not witnessed in Tunis for a decade.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that he was following developments in Tunisia “with concern”.

“We believe that Tunisia’s democratic revolution was something that inspired hope all over the world,” he said.

“We see the concerns, and I hope that those concerns will be removed by the full restoration of an institutional democratic framework that works for all Tunisians.”

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