Tunisian president calls for a 'political purge', says 'no turning back'

Tunisian president calls for a 'political purge', says 'no turning back'
Tunisian President Kais Saied vowed to carry out a purge through 'lawful and legal' means, weeks after he dismissed the prime minister and dissolved parliament.
2 min read
13 August, 2021
Saied has urged his citizens to be patient as he warned of a 'purge' [Getty]

During a lengthy speech on Thursday, Tunisian President Kais Saied affirmed his intention to "cleanse" the country, refusing to go back on his decision made in late July when he dismissed parliament and sacked the prime minister.

"I tell honest and steadfast citizens to be a little patient, and there is no turning back at all. I promised God and the people that I would move forward, and history would never go back," Saied was quoted by The New Arab's Arabic-language service as saying before a committee to combat natural disasters.

Tunisia has also been affected by the recent wildfires sweeping through neighbouring Algeria, which has killed dozens there.

Saied said public institutions were functioning "despite the danger that is no longer imminent," insisting that the exceptional measures he took were constitutional.

His move last month was considered by the Islamist Ennahda party to be a "coup", while others have described it as a power grab.

Saied compared his purge to "Autumn rains," which he said would cleanse Tunisia through lawful and legal means, adding "the people want to cleanse the country of all the dirt… and we will cleanse it from those who tampered with Tunisians."

"The gaps between the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, and the healthy and the sick must be abolished," he said.

He added that corruption networks in Tunisia were "longer and more complex" than the drainage networks, as he continued to compare the situation in his country to the fires and floods recently witnessed in the North African nation which have impacted citizens.

"There are those who are trying to cut off drinking water in a number of regions, and one of them said yesterday: Go to the president and tell him to bring back drinking water for you."

"Cutting off water is a crime against the Tunisian people, as well as some of the fires. And I say today, as I said yesterday, that whoever ignited the fires will burn with it," he warned.

Saied also urged the Tunisian people to get vaccinated, as the country begins to slowly recover from the catastrophic situation it was in for months.

Tunisia was recording the highest number of deaths per capita in the North Africa and Middle East region, as its healthcare system collapsed.