Saied extends suspension of political powers

The decision comes a month after the president froze parliament and assumed full government powers
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AP/SLIM ABID  -   Tunisian President Kais Saied at a security meeting with members of the army and police forces in Tunis

Kais Saied has run out of time to form a solid government that would provide an opportunity to give the country some stability in the face of the convulsive political, social and health crisis the country is going through. On 25 July, the Tunisian president froze the government and assumed full governmental powers under his person in an act that was even labelled a "coup d'état". Saied set a deadline of the end of August for the appointment of a prime minister and the formation of a new government, as required by Tunisian law.

However, Tunisia is still without a government and the situation shows that the country will continue without government formation. In an official communiqué, the Tunisian presidency has informed, after issuing a presidential order, the decision to extend the exceptional measures adopted by the president, both the dismissal of the prime minister, Hichem Michechi, and the suspension of powers, as well as lifting the parliamentary immunity of its members until further notice. Although the Tunisian constitution does not allow for the dissolution of parliament, it does allow for the suspension of powers for 30 days, a measure that Saied took advantage of. 

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AP/HASSENE DRIDI - Police cars and an armoured military vehicle block the entrance to the Tunisian parliament in Tunis.

In this context, President Saied affirmed that these measures were carried out with the aim of "protecting the state" and putting an end to measures that "increased the misery and poverty of the people". He added that "we did not want to resort to measures despite the fulfilment of constitutional conditions, but on the other hand, many people were deceived by hypocrisy and betrayal".

Saied's decision came after hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the government, at the time headed by ousted Prime Minister Hichemi Michechi. Similarly, protesters demanded adequate health measures and policies that were commensurate with the new challenges Tunisia was facing in both the socio-health and political contexts. 

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AP/HASSENE DRIDI - Islamist party leader and speaker of parliament Rached Ghannouchi

Following the power freeze, Tunisian society welcomed Saied's decision with great approval due to its widespread dissatisfaction with Ghannouchi's policies. The fragile political situation resulting from the delicate political pacts between the parliamentary groups, which were different in themselves and even had opposing interests, as well as the constant differences between Ghannouchi and Saied, led to a political situation that was falling apart. Thus, one of the countries that had shown signs of emerging as a state that was beginning to structure itself as a democratic country following the outbreak of the Arab Spring has failed as an example of democracy.

On the other hand, the Ennahda movement has announced the dissolution of the movement's executive office, the dismissal of all its members, in addition to its reform "so that it responds to the requirements of the scenario and achieves the required efficiency". The movement's chairman, Rached Ghannouchi, stressed "the continuation of the assignment of the political crisis management committee, headed by Mohamed Al-Qumani, to help bring the country out of the exceptional situation in which it lives". 

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PHOTO/REUTERS - Anti-government protest in Tunisia, 25 July 2021

Ennahda initially dismissed the convulsive situation and Saied's seizure of power as a coup d'état. However, a week later it rectified its measure to express that the exceptional measures should become "an opportunity for reform" and that they should be "a stage of democratic transformation at a remarkable turning point".

Likewise, following the announcement of the extension of the government suspension, the formation stressed in a statement "the need to distance political discourse from the charge, mobilisation and incitement, and to respect the prestige of state institutions, primarily the Presidency of the Republic, in addition to expressing its "full solidarity with the family of the President of the Republic, against any attempt to defame them, or involve them in disputes", and "its rejection of this disgraceful behaviour, for violating the sanctities, moral charters, laws and values on which our society is based". 

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AP/RIADH DRIDI - A man walks past a statue of Mohammed Bouazizi's chariot in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, Friday, Dec. 11, 2020.

It further stressed that it "rejects these practices, and is prepared to take disciplinary action against any of its rules. Through its publications, it is proven that it offends anyone and deviates from the ethics of political discourse", stressing that "the way out of the current crisis can only be through a comprehensive dialogue, far from exclusion".