Tunisia party says president risks 'dismantling state'

Tunisia party says president's power grab risks 'dismantling state'
2 min read
21 September, 2021
On July 25, Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, removed lawmakers' immunity and put himself in charge of the prosecution.
Kais Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, removed lawmakers' immunity and put himself in charge of the prosecution [Getty]

Tunisia's Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party said on Tuesday that President Kais Saied's recent measures to extend his powers risked setting in motion the "dismantling" of the state.

On July 25, Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, removed lawmakers' immunity and put himself in charge of the prosecution.

On Monday, he said he would appoint a prime minister, but that the emergency measures unveiled nearly two months ago would remain in place.

Ennahdha, Saied's arch-foe, formed the largest bloc in parliament before the president's shock move.

"The maintenance of the exceptional measures indefinitely, along with the absence of a legitimate government and the suspension of the elected parliament threaten to lead to the dismantling of the state," Ennahdha said in a statement.

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Such factors also risk "exacerbating the economic, financial and social" crisis currently besetting the country, the party added.

The president also said he would put forward a new electoral law, without elaborating on what it would entail.

Saied's desired "transitional measures" amount to a "determination to repeal the constitution that Tunisians unanimously adopted", Ennahdha added.

Street protests in early 2011 toppled longtime Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, setting in motion a transition to a parliamentary democracy solidified by a 2014 constitution.

Tunisia has won praise for that transition but latterly, many citizens feel their quality of life has worsened in the face of grinding economic, social and political crises, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many took to the streets on July 25 in support of Saied's moves.

But rights groups have warned that measures including military trials of some of the president's opponents reflect a worrying trend back towards authoritarianism.