Tunisians defy riot police to protest against president

Tunisians defy riot police to protest against president
Over a thousand Tunisians protested against President Kais Saied's proposed constitutional reforms in the latest power grab.
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Hundreds of Tunisians protested on Sunday [Getty]

More than a thousand Tunisians rallied Sunday decrying what they said was a power grab by President Kais Saied and his proposed constitutional reforms.

"Get out," protesters in the capital Tunis shouted at a rally organised by the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party that dominated the now-dissolved parliament, and a movement named "Citizens Against the Coup".

Saied -- a former law professor elected in 2019 amid public anger against the political class -- on July 25 last year sacked the government, froze the assembly and seized wide-ranging powers.

He later gave himself powers to rule and legislate by decree and seized control over the judiciary.

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"The people want to dismiss the president," the crowds chanted, many waving national flags. "Down with the coup."

Last month, the president dissolved parliament, dealing another blow to the political system in place since the North African country's 2011 revolt, which sparked the Arab Spring uprisings in the region.

"There is no democracy without legislative power," shouted other protesters, who defied a large deployment of riot police to take to the streets.

Saied has been repeatedly criticised by Western governments and rights groups for his moves, which have sparked fears of a return to autocracy 11 years after the overthrow of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.