Tunisia registers major protests against the government and the Islamist party Ennahda

Hundreds of people demonstrated against the authorities over the rise of coronavirus cases and the national economic situation
Demonstrators clash with police in Tunisia

AP/HASSENE DRIDI  -   Demonstrators clash with police in Tunisia

Hundreds of demonstrators protested in several Tunisian cities, including the capital, against the executive of the North African country, led by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, to demand his resignation and against the Speaker of Parliament, Rached Ghannouchi, after the bad situation the country is going through, hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and beset by the current economic situation. 

According to various media outlets such as Al-Ain and Reuters, police forces had to confront the demonstrators with dispersive measures such as the use of tear gas, while the protesters threw various objects and chanted slogans demanding the resignation of the prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, and the dissolution of the parliament presided over by Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Islamist majority party Ennahda. 

Agentes de Policía se enfrentan a manifestantes en Túnez
AP/HASSENE DRIDI - Police officers clash with protesters in Tunisia

In addition to the capital, other cities such as Gafsa, Sidi Bouzid, Monastir and Nabeul were the scene of major protests. Moreover, in Sousse, an attempt was made to storm the headquarters of the Islamist Ennahda party, which is the most widely represented party in the Tunisian parliament, in a situation in which seats are widely distributed among different parties and a complex situation of political balances due to the existing parliamentary atomisation. 

In fact, the Ennahda party has been linked to the most fierce Islamism and has even been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, according to different analysts. Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood is considered a terrorist organisation by various countries such as Egypt and the United States. In another town, Touzeur, the demonstrators set fire to the Ennahda offices, as reported by the Al-Ain media. 

El primer ministro tunecino, Hichem Mechichi
AFP/FETHI BELAID - Tunisia's Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi

The protests were sparked by the existence of a weak government, the result of fragile parliamentary pacts in the absence of a party with strong parliamentary representation and the differences between the executive headed by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and the President of the Republic, Kais Saied. In a Parlmanto in which there have also been strong clashes between political parties, including the Free Desturian Party, Ennahda's main rival. The population has recently been expressing its dissatisfaction with the handling of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a major impact on Tunisia. In fact, the North African country's health minister was recently dismissed by the prime minister due to criticism of his chaotic handling of the fight against the pandemic and the sharp increase in the number of infections and mortality rates in the country. 

Many sectors of the Tunisian public believe that the authorities are unable to control the health crisis in the midst of an economic situation that is also complicated. 

El líder del partido islamista tunecino Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi
AFP/FETHI BELAID - The leader of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party, Rached Ghannouchi

After a year of disputes between Hichem Mechichi and Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi, who is also speaker of parliament, President Kais Saied declared that the army would take over the response to the pandemic. Some analysts saw the move as an attempt by Kais Saied to overstep his duties beyond the military and diplomatic role assigned to the president in the 2014 constitution, as Reuters recalled. On the other hand, the government's apparent ineffectiveness could prevent the arrival of a much-needed loan from the International Monetary Fund, considered essential for cleaning up the country's finances.