Tunisia gets rid of Islamists, Prime Minister Mechichi sacked and Parliament suspended
The Tunisian crisis has come to a showdown. President Kais Saied has invoked Article 80 of the Constitution and dissolved the government of Hichem Mechichi, “freezing” the Parliament for a month, pending the formation of a new cabinet.
The law speaks of “danger and malfunctioning of the institutions.” To push the head of state towards such a radical decision, the yesterday’s demonstrations on the anniversary of the Republic funding, with tens of thousands of people in streets calling the premier’s resignation and forming a new government. Police intervened in the demonstrations with tear gas and batons, but this was not enough to stop the assault on sections of the Islamic party Ennahdha in several cities.
In front of the Parliament in Tunis, clashes are underway; some people were injured by stone-throwing.The observation that the Mechichi executive did not seem able to face the pandemic in a particularly virulent phase in the Mediterranean country can boast just 7% of the vaccinated population raised the population’s anger.
The problems in the fight against Covid have prompted the president to entrust the health campaign to the Armed Forces. But the fundamental element remains that of the deep economic crisis with widespread unemployment: proof of this is that the protests are organized by young people through social networks, without any party to ride them.
The president has taken upon himself the executive’s responsibility, pending the appointment of a new prime minister. “Many citizens have been deceived by hypocrisy, betrayal, and the robbery of rights,” Saied said. The head of state has also assumed the role of Attorney General and suspended parliamentary immunity to impose a judicial process on deputies accused of malpractice. Saved also warned that the Armed and Security Forces will repress any use of violence. Yesterday evening the military surrounded the Parliament buildings in the Bardo. The crowd greeted them with applause, singing the national anthem. Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the majority Islamic party Ennahdha and president of Parliament, tried to enter with the vice president and several deputies, but the soldiers prevented him.
The president explained that “it is not a coup, and whoever says it should read the Constitution, or go back to the first grade. I have been patient, and I suffered beside the Tunisian people“. From a legal point of view, disputes over the Fundamental Charter should be resolved by a constitutional court, which has not yet been established, seven years after the approval of the Constitution.
After the announcement of Saied’s decision, cars honking their horns and flags, defying the curfew, fulfilled the streets of Tunis and significant cities. The president himself took to the streets, cheered by the crowd. That is the first day of celebration for the Tunisian people starved by the Muslim Brotherhood. But that’s not all, now the demands for the arrest of corrupt ministers and parliamentarians are increasing. Kais Saied has waived the immunity for all deputies.