Thousands of Tunisians have taken to the streets today to protest President Kais Saieds takeover of power. Two months ago, the president dismissed the Prime Minister and suspended Parliament.
The protesters gathered in the centre of the capital under police supervision and shouted slogans like, “The people want an end to the coup.” Its the second weekend in a row that Tunisians take to the streets.
Last week, the president, who was elected in 2019, drew even more power. He took measures to govern by decree, pending the amendment of the Constitution. The government will also have to be accountable to the President and no longer Parliament. MEPs dont have to count on salary anymore either.
Unrest among Tunisians
The presidents dictatorial action is highly criticized by the political parties. The largest political party, the moderate Islamic Enahda, called on the population to unite and defend democracy peacefully.
“This is what many people feared, that he would draw more and more power to him,” says Middle East correspondent Daisy Mohr.
President Still Popular
After Saieds power hold, it remained silent for a long time. He seized power on July 25, following massive protests against the economic crisis and failing corona policies. Tunisia has been hit hard by the corona pandemic.
The president said the Constitution gives him the right to intervene in the event of a state of emergency and that he wants to restore social peace. Saied wants to amend the Constitution and introduce a presidential system in which the President has great power and there is no room for a Prime Minister. He himself denies that its a coup.
The population is divided between the presidents actions. “There are Tunisians who didnt like this from the start and called it a coup,” says Mohr. But this certainly doesnt apply to everyone. “The president is still popular as many people hope for a better future. Corona has chopped in a lot and the economy is going bad. There is high unemployment and a lot of people want to leave.”
The current Constitution was introduced in 2014 following democratic reforms in the country. This transition took place after President Ben Ali fled three years earlier after large-scale protests, which formed the start of the so-called Arab Spring. During a wave of protests in the region, authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Libya were also deposed.