Tunisia: Protests flare outside Parliament building in Tunis
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The Tunisian President is facing accusations he undertook a coup in the country but he has denied these claims calling on critics to “review your constitutional lessons”. The North African nation is facing its worst crisis in a decade after the country’s Government was ousted and parliament suspended with help from the army.
Tunisian President Kais Saied has announced a month-long curfew in the North African country one day after he dismissed the prime minister.
Mr Saied, an independent without a party behind him, stands accused by critics of staging a coup.
He announced he was invoking an emergency article of Tunisia’s constitution late on Sunday night after a day of violent protests against the country’s biggest party, the moderate Islamist Ennahda movement.
Tunisians will awaken to a nationwide curfew from 7pm to 6am – as well as a ban on gatherings of more than three people in public spaces.
The new restrictions were announced by the President late on Monday.
The rules also prohibit the movement of people between cities outside times of curfew, with the exception of an urgent health situation.
The outgoing prime minister Hichem Mechichi said on Monday he would hand power over to his replacement, chosen by the President.
In a statement published on Facebook, Mr Mechichi said: “In order to preserve the safety of all Tunisians, I declare that I align myself, as I have always, by the side of our people, and declare that I will not take up any position or responsibility in the state.”
What is happening in Tunisia right now?
Tunisia has often been heralded as the sole success of the 2011 Arab Spring.
But this success came to an abrupt end after President Saied plunged the country into its deepest political crisis in a decade.
Mr Saied fired the country’s prime minister, defence and justice ministers – as well as freezing the parliament.
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The move followed on from nationwide rallies where protesters demanded the resignation of the premier and dissolution of the parliament amid a dangerous outbreak of coronavirus which has propelled the nation’s country to the point of collapse and escalated economic woes.
A significant amount of the protester’s anger was directed towards the Ennahda party which commands the largest bloc in parliament.
The offices and local party headquarters of the party have been stormed and even set alight.
Few people in Tunisia expected the President to undertake such drastic action despite a growing demand for change.
Parliament in Tunisia has now been suspended for 30 days.
Mr Saied’s actions have been labelled a coup by many of the country’s main parties, but he has denied those claims.
The European Union has urged caution in the country – calling on political actors to “respect the constitution” and avoid violence.
In a telephone call on Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Tunisian president to “maintain open dialogue with all political actors and the Tunisian people”, according to his office.
The UN said “all disputes… should be resolved through dialogue”, with the Arab League, Russia and Qatar issues similar appeals to avoid violence.
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