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Tunisia tries to reassure as Ennahdha presses for early elections | Politics News

Tunisia tries to reassure as Ennahdha presses for early elections | Politics News

The Tunisian foreign minister called his counterparts in the European Union, as well as Turkey and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to reassure them after the president suspended parliament and sacked the government, the ministry said on Tuesday, as the opposition called for elections.

Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi said he explained that the extraordinary measures were temporary and that his counterparts pledged their continued support for the nascent democracy.

Earlier on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia affirmed its confidence in the Tunisian leadership, according to the Saudi State News Agency (SPA).

“Saudi Arabia affirms its confidence in the Tunisian leadership to overcome these circumstances and achieve a decent life and prosperity for the brotherly Tunisian people.

The country was plunged into crisis after President Kais Saied was dismissed from the government with the help of the military, a move denounced as a coup by the main Tunisian parties, including the largest political bloc, Ennahdha .

Moroccan and Algerian foreign ministers Nasser Bourita and Ramtane Lamamra also met Saied in Tunis on Tuesday, according to the Tunisian foreign ministry.

Call for elections

Opponents of Saied have declared their readiness for early elections while warning of an “autocratic regime”.

The Ennahdha party said it was “for the sake of the democratic path”, it is “ready to go to early legislative and presidential elections” while warning “that any delay is not used as a pretext to maintain an autocratic regime. “.

The party also accused Saied of “working with undemocratic forces to overthrow the constitutional rights of elected officials and replace them with members of his own” chosen cabal. ”

Noureddine Bhiri, a senior Ennahdha leader, said the party had “decided to campaign peacefully to defeat” the president’s plans, saying “national solidarity” was needed.

But before any election, “parliament should resume its activities and the army should end its control,” Bhiri told AFP news agency.

Police officers stand guard outside parliament in Tunis on Tuesday [Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters]

“Organized thugs”

After heavy clashes on Monday, Ennahdha said “organized thugs” were being used to “cause bloodshed and chaos”, and urged his supporters “to return home in the interests of peacekeeping and the security of our nation “.

The young Maghreb democracy of 12 million inhabitants, cradle of the uprisings of the Arab Spring 10 years ago, was plunged Sunday into a constitutional crisis.

Saied appeared on national television to declare that he had removed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi from his post and ordered the parliament to be closed for 30 days, later sending army troops to the legislature and the office of the Prime Minister.

The president’s actions, ostensibly “to save Tunisia,” followed a day of street protests against the government’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left Tunisia one of the highest official death tolls per capita in the world.

The president also said he would choose a new prime minister, lifted parliamentary immunity for lawmakers and warned that the armed opposition would face a “rain of bullets”. He then sacked the defense and justice ministers.

Street clashes between his supporters and opponents erupted in front of the barricaded parliament on Monday, leaving several injured.

Police also shut down the office of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, the parent company of Al Jazeera English online.

The office of the Tunisian parliament, chaired by the leader of Ennahdha, Rached Ghannouchi, expressed Monday evening its “absolute rejection and firm condemnation” of the president’s actions.

“Principles of democracy”

Many Tunisians have expressed support for the president and thousands have taken to the streets to celebrate Sunday night, but others have expressed fear of a return to dictatorship.

The French-language newspaper Le Quotidien wrote on Tuesday that the “kick … in the parliamentary anthill took many people by surprise, starting with Ennahdha”.

The young democracy had often been cited as the only success of the Arab Spring, the tumult sparked in the region after Mohamed Bouazizi, a university graduate who could only find work as a fruit seller, set himself on fire in December 2010.

Tunisia, located between Algeria facing political turmoil and war-ravaged Libya, is seen as the key to regional stability.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by telephone with Saied on Monday and urged him “to adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights which are the basis of governance in Tunisia”.

The senior US diplomat urged Saied to “maintain an open dialogue with all political actors and the Tunisian people,” the State Department said.

The head of the European Union’s foreign policy, Josep Borrell, called on Tuesday for “the resumption of parliamentary activity, respect for fundamental rights and the abstention from all forms of violence”.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the president of the Commission of the African Union called on Tuesday for “strict respect for the Tunisian constitution … and the promotion of political dialogue”.

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