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Tunisian democracy in crisis after president ousts government

Tunisia is currently facing its biggest threat to democracy in over a decade after President Kais Saied ousted the government and froze the parliament’s activities on Monday. The move has been labelled as a coup by his critics. Saied released a statement on Sunday in which he invoked the constitution to defend his removal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and freeze the parliament for 30 days. Saied stated that he will govern alongside a new premier. The announcement came just days after massive protests against the government and the majority party in the parliament, the moderate Islamist Ennahda. The protests were largely centered around a spike in Covid-19 cases and mounting anger over chronic political disfunction and economic crises.

This presents the greatest challenge to the Tunisian government since the 2011 revolution that ousted autocracy in favor of the democratic rule. Huge crowns gathered to support Saied’s announcement on Sunday, celebrating the decision. The military blocked off the parliament and state television station due to the commotion. However, not everyone was thrilled about Saied’s move. The Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi declared the moves to be a coup and an assault on democracy. Ghannouchi called a session in defiance of Saied early this morning, however, the army stopped him from entering.

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