Tunisian president ousts premier, suspends parliament

Tunisian security officers hold back supporters of President Kais Saied in front of the parliament in Tunis, July 26, 2021. (Photo: Fethi Belaid/AFP)
Tunisian security officers hold back supporters of President Kais Saied in front of the parliament in Tunis, July 26, 2021. (Photo: Fethi Belaid/AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Tunisian president Kais Saied on Sunday announced the suspension of parliament and dissolution of the country’s prime minister and cabinet amid a deepening political crisis the North African country is facing as the partial result of a crippling economy made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Saied cited the constitution’s Article 80, which allows him to “take any measures” in the face of immediate danger to the country, sacked political rival Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi. This came after calls by protesting Tunisians to “dissolve” the Islamist-led parliament and government that they say proved incompetent to overcome the present crises.

“The constitution does not allow for the dissolution of parliament, but it does allow for its work to be suspended,” President Saied announced, saying he would appoint a new prime minister to work alongside him.

The country’s Islamist party, Ennahda, makes up the majority of the body, but Saied also stripped the party's lawmakers of their parliamentary immunity, raising fears of potential upcoming mass arrests. 

Rached Ghannouchi, who serves as both parliament speaker and head of the Ennahda Movement, led a sit-in protest on Monday in front of the parliament, describing Saied’s move as a “coup d'etat.”

Following the ouster of former Tunisian president Zain al Abadin bin Ali in the popular 2011 so-called Arab Spring demonstrations that spread across North Africa and the Middle East.

The country later embraced a democratic system but has failed to achieve much-needed economic prosperity that its population demands. 

Editing by John J. Catherine