President Saied calls Tunisia opposition a 'cancer'
Tunisian president Kais Saied has caused uproar after he described opposition figures as a "cancer" that can only be "cured with chemicals" in a public address this week.
"The state is ravaged by corruption - but the Tunisian people will cleanse its institutions of the cancer that has spread through the country," said the authoritarian leader, as he opened a community project in the Gabes governorate of south-east Tunisia.
The incendiary rhetoric from Saied, who seized increasing powers since he led what has widely been described as a coup in July 2021, has caused fear of further purges.
Chaima Issa, leader of the National Salvation Front, said in response that Saied was a "bloody political animal, but one that is failing".
Saied also described the opposition as "drunks", "devils" and "insects".
"Can anyone believe what they heard from the supposed head of state?! This deluge of hate and bitterness is unbelievable," tweeted Tunisian commentator Morsel Alkesibi.
The embattled Tunisian president is reeling from depressingly low turnout in recent parliamentary elections and a floundering economy that is leading to growing disquiet and dissent.
In December, Tunisia recorded the lowest electoral turnout in its recent history, 8.8 percent, in the first round of the legislative vote.
Since last year, the North African state has grappled with mounting economic woes, repeated labour strikes by teachers and transportation workers, and shortages of basic goods as farmers are unable to pay for fodder.