Tunisia plunged into a new political crisis
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
President Kais Saied of Tunisia fired Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi claiming national interest. Saied then did the same to the Defense Minister as a sign of consolidating his actions. Therefore, Tunisia is being plunged once more into a new political crisis.
In recent weeks, increasing discontent over the handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis resulted in more anger. Hence, with more deep-seated economic and political roots going back many years, the discontent over the coronavirus is one of many important issues.
According to Saied, he had limited options because of growing protests throughout parts of the country. Thus with people demanding action and changed policies, the president claims he had to act immediately.
Saied said, he took “the necessary decisions to save Tunisia, the state and the Tunisian people.”
The president also warned opposition forces from refraining from using force. He said, ominously, if anyone “fires a single bullet, our forces will respond with a rain of bullets.”
The constitution specifies that the control of the military rests with the president. However, the parliament speaker, Rached Ghannouchi, who is head of the powerful Ennahdha party, deems the actions of the president as being a “coup.”
France 24 reports, “Soldiers from early Monday blockaded the assembly in Tunis while Saied backers hurled stones, bottles and insults at supporters of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha, whose leader was barred entry to the complex.“
Importantly, the influential Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) seems to be backing the president. The UGTT declared that the president acted “in accordance” with the national constitution. This concerns “preventing imminent danger and restoring the normal functioning” of national institutions.
Voice of America reports, “Saied’s announcement drew crowds of demonstrators into the streets of the capital, Tunis, and elsewhere to celebrate, reflecting people’s anger at parliament to address the country’s problems.”
Nations including Algeria, Egypt, France, and Turkey will be watching events closely.
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