Tunisian President dismissed government and froze parliament powers

Tunisian President Kais Saied stated that the parliament froze all its powers and suspended the immunity of deputies, declaring that he dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and that he will take over the executive with a prime minister he will appoint.

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Tunisian President Kais Saied stated that “due to the extraordinary conditions the country is in,” the parliament froze all its powers and suspended the immunity of deputies, declaring that he dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and that he would take over the executive with a prime minister he would personally appoint.

In the video released by the Tunisian Presidency, Saied, speaking after a meeting attended by the military command and security officials in the country, stated that “Tunisia needs to take extraordinary measures to save the country in the face of looting, fire and the situation it is in,” and that some groups he did not name are trying to start a civil war in certain regions.

Saied stated that he took these decisions, which should have been taken a few months ago, after consultations with the Speaker of the Parliament and Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi.

Announcing that the parliament’s powers have been frozen, the immunity of deputies has been suspended, and that Prime Minister Mechichi has been dismissed from his post meaning he will take over the executive with a prime minister he will appoint, Saied stated that a circular will be issued after the said decisions and the decisions will take effect immediately.

Saied noted that the government will remain under his leadership until then.

Arguing that these decisions are inevitable in order to protect the constitution and the interests of the people, Saied stated that he also assumed the duty of attorney-general on the grounds of revealing corruption files.

Tunisian Parliament Speaker and Ennahda Movement leader Rached Ghannouchi called on the people to peacefully struggle after President Kais Saied’s decision to freeze the work of the Assembly and dismiss the prime minister.

Ghannouchi, the leader of the largest party in the Tunisian Parliament, stated that the decisions taken by the president have no legal basis and are a coup d’état. “We call on the President to reverse these decisions because these decisions lead the people into darkness,” he said.

Stating that President Saied called him and shared that he would take some decisions within the framework of the constitution, Ghannouchi stated that he was not aware of the content of these decisions, that the said decisions were invalid, and that the Assembly would continue to work within the constitutional framework.

Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki also stated the decisions taken by Tunisian President Kais Saied were a “coup d’état.”

Marzouki, in his video message published on his social media account, pointed to the decisions Saied took late last night and expressed that, “What happened tonight is a coup d’état and a violation of the constitution.”

On the other hand, the soldiers in the Tunisian parliament did not allow Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi and a group of deputies accompanying him to enter the building.

Ghannouchi, who came to the gate of the Assembly accompanied by his deputy and another group of deputies, asked the soldiers at the gate to be allowed to enter. However, the soldiers at the parliament gate informed Ghannouchi and his accompanying deputies that they could not allow them to enter due to the instructions they received from the Presidency.

Ghannouchi called on Tunisians and the army to stand against President Said’s decisions, in front of the parliament building.

In a written statement from his social media account, Ghannouchi stated that the freezing of the parliament’s work is unconstitutional, illegal, and inconsistent.

“The Assembly of the Republic of Tunisia is on its task and will complete its work,” Ghannouchi said.

Stating that President Saied did not consult him regarding the implementation of Article 80 of the Constitution, Ghannouchi noted that what was said to the contrary was a baseless claim.

In addition, the president of Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections Nabil Baffoun said that the decision of President Kais Saied was shocking and incompatible with the constitution.

Based on the sequence of events, the political crisis in Tunisia, which started with President Saied’s refusal to take the oath of ministers after the cabinet revision of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, turned into what many have described as a coup d’état in which President Saied has taken over all executive powers. Some political parties in the parliament and political groups aim to prevent the “presidential coup” by inviting the people to the street against President Saied’s anti-democratic initiatives, which many political parties in the country criticized.

Musab Yilmaz

Musab Yılmaz is a Researcher in North African Studies. He graduated from Galatasaray University, with a degree in Political Science. He is currently an MA student at Ibn Haldun University, in the Department of Political Science and International Relations. He conducts research on Northern and Sub-Saharan African countries, especially in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.

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