Tunisian outrage at President Kais Saied's 'coup' as ex-president decries 'Israeli-Emirati decision'

Tunisian outrage at President Kais Saied's 'coup' as ex-president decries 'Israeli-Emirati decision'
Ex-president Moncef Marzouki said Kais Saied is a 'danger' and called the current president's actions, which have been widely described as a 'coup', 'an Israeli-Emirati regional decision'.
3 min read
26 July, 2021
Ex-president Moncef Marzouki called what has happened 'an Israeli-Emirati regional decision' [Anadolu/Getty]

Tunisian President Kais Saied's decision to sack the prime minister and dissolve parliament on Sunday has been described as a "coup" by leading politicians and activists in the country.

The president announced the suspension of parliament and removal of the nation's premier, Hichem Mechichi, late Sunday following an extended stalemate with them.

The move has been slammed by Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker of Tunisia's parliament and head of the Islamist Ennahda Movement, the largest party and a member of the coalition government.

"The Tunisian people made a revolution, not a coup, and it is a revolution with young people, and men and women who will defend it," he said, according to Arabi21 reported on Monday.

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He said that although Saied spoke to him about adopting "exceptional measures within the framework of the constitution", he has instead conducted "a coup against the constitution".

The legislature must remain sitting in a permanent session and the government cannot be removed, including during states of emergency, Ghannouchi explained, safeguards not followed by the president.

Article 80 of the constitution, which Saied activated, allows for "exceptional measures" when "imminent danger" exists against the country's institutions.

Ex-president Moncef Marzouki also joined the chorus of those decrying the "clear coup", according to Arabi21.

He argued that the current president "is no longer trusted with Tunisia's future", urging early elections and calling Saied a "danger".

Appearing on television for Al Magharibia, the ex-head of state claimed what has happened was "an Israeli-Emirati regional decision".

Marzouki said the army will be opposed to actions such as this and believes it will continue to protect the nation's institutions and citizens. Tunisia is viewed by many analysts as the Arab world's only true democracy and was the main success story of the Arab Spring.

Ayyad Al-Loumi, a lawmaker from the coalition government Heart of Tunisia party, said "Kais Saied has committed political suicide and his decisions are invalid", urging that the legislature remove him.

For its part, the Dignity Coalition, another coalition member, issued a release saying Saied has no constitutional power to "freeze parliament's work".

The Democratic Current, which is in the opposition, said on Monday that it too opposed the president's understanding of Article 80, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, reported.

The party said it "does not see a solution exception within the framework of the constitution" and asked Saied and other stakeholders to "unite their efforts to get out of the country's crisis by respecting democracy, human rights, resistance to political corruption".

The Tunisian General Labour Union said it would meet on Monday following Saied's actions, Arabi21 said, but did not give a response yet to the sacking of the government.

This is despite serious tensions with the president concerning the governmental stalemate.

In April, President Kais Saied was criticised for planning a "soft coup" two days after he said he has lawful control of domestic security forces.