Tunisian president bans protests, suspends govt operations

Tunisia president bans protests, suspends government departments following ‘coup’
2 min read
27 July, 2021
Tunisian President Kais Saied has issued decrees banning protests in public squares and suspending the work of government departments.
Kais Saied suspended some government operations following his 'coup' [Getty]

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday issued decrees banning protests in public squares and suspending the work of government departments following his sacking of Prime Minister Hicham Mechechi and dissolution of parliament - widely decried as a 'coup'.

The president also sacked Defence Minister Ibrahim Bartaji and acting Justice Minister Hasna Ben Slimane on Monday.

The Tunisian leader said however that he was committed to "defending rights and freedoms" and ensuring the independence of the judiciary.

One of Saied's decrees limits gatherings in public squares to three people and imposes a curfew between 7pm and 6pm.

Another decree issued by the president suspends the work of central government departments, Tunisian "foreign interests", and local groups and public institutions "with an administrative nature" for two days beginning on Tuesday, subject to renewal.

Saied has insisted that his actions are in accordance with Article 80 of the Tunisian constitution, which authorises the president to impose emergency measures in a state of "imminent danger threatening the integrity of the country and the country's security and independence".

Perspectives

Article 80 however does not authorise the president to dissolve parliament and says the measures he takes must be aimed at restoring stability and ensuring the proper functioning of state institutions.

Tunisian parliamentary speaker Rached El-Ghannouchi, who also heads the Islamist Ennahda party, has condemned Saied's actions as a "coup against the constitution", saying that Tunisians would "defend" the 2011 revolution that brought democracy to the country.

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has called Saied a "danger" to Tunisia, accusing the UAE and Israel of involvement in his "coup" attempt.

On Monday evening Saied met with leaders of several Tunisian national organisations including Jamal Musallam, the head of the Tunisian Human Rights League.

He said that he would respect rights and freedoms and "the deadlines for the implementation for the exceptional measures”, the Tunisian news agency TAP reported.

TAP also reported that Saied would announce the formation of a new government "in the coming days".

Saied also met with members of the Tunisian Supreme Council of the Judiciary on Monday and said he was committed to "respecting the constitution and its stipulations… and guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary at this sensitive time in the history of Tunisia".

The Supreme Council of the Judiciary, however, rejected a decree issued by Saied following his Sunday power-grab appointing himself head of the public prosecutor's office, saying that the position was part of the judiciary.

Saied claimed this was in order to hold "corrupt people" to account.