Tunis – On Monday, Tunisian President Kais Saied announced the dismissal of Parliament. Following the dismissal of Parliament, some senior Ministers, including the Prime Minister, have been sacked and troops have been deployed across the country. Opposition groups have termed this action by the President as a coup. On the international level, the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League, and other leading nations have called for democracy and human rights protection. Political instability and discontent seem to have intensified once again in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring movement began in the last decade.
Protests and uprisings in Tunisia in 2010-11 overthrew the then-dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The Islamic political group, Ennahda, succeeded in acquiring power in the country. But over the past decade, no government in Tunisia has been able to complete its term. Governments have changed many times in the last ten years, and some governments have been in power for only a few months. In the wake of this political instability, the Tunisian people elected Saeed, a ‘political outsider’, as President in 2019.
But even after that, the political group ‘Ennahda’ failed to give a stable government to the country. Anti-government protests have resumed in Tunisia over the past few months given corruption, police action and the failure to control the Coronavirus pandemic. In July, the protests intensified and turned violent. After the government failed to control it, President Saied convened an emergency meeting on Sunday night and announced the dismissal of Parliament. Saeed also fired Prime Minister Hisham Mechichi, the defence minister and other key ministers.
President Saeed’s decision shows that Tunisia has been divided into two factions. On Monday, the population without any political support welcomed Saied’s move. On the other hand, supporters of Ennahda and other political groups in the government strongly oppose the President’s decision. Ennahda and other political parties have accused President Saeed’s decision of being a coup. However, Saied said that he had decided as per the constitution. Following the dismissal of Parliament, the Tunisian President has deployed troops in the country and announced a curfew. At the same time, President Saeed announced that he was handing over control of the Coronavirus pandemic to the military.
The international community has expressed concern over the developments in Tunisia and called on President Saied to focus on maintaining democracy. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he had a telephonic conversation with the Tunisian President. The United Nations and the Arab League have responded that the situation in Tunisia is worrying.