Tunisians have gathered near the country’s parliament to protest against a presidential power grab they have denounced as a “coup”.
Sunday’s rally in Tunis was the latest opposing President Kais Saied’s July 25 decision to sack the government, suspend parliament and seize an array of powers, citing an “imminent threat” to the country.
“The people want to bring down the coup d’etat,” protesters chanted as they pulled down barriers obstructing the roads leading to the parliament building at the capital’s Bardo palace, leading to clashes with security forces.
Some demonstrators also carried signs reading, “No to the intimidation of the media” and demanding “an independent judicial authority”.
On September 22, Saied also suspended parts of the constitution and installed rule by decree, maintaining full control of the judiciary as well as powers to sack ministers and issue laws.
He appointed a new government in October, with Najla Bouden as the country’s first female prime minister. But the president has significantly pared back the powers of her office and will technically head the administration himself.
Saied, who was elected in late 2019, made his shock move amid a socioeconomic crisis aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of his opponents have accused him of seeking a new dictatorship, a decade after Tunisia’s 2011 revolt that overthrew longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But the president’s supporters say his moves were needed after years of deadlock among political parties seen as corrupt and self-serving.