Thousands of supporters of Tunisian President Kais Saied rallied in the capital on Sunday to show their support for the suspension of parliament and a promise to change the political system, with critics calling a coup.
The demonstration in central Tunis was called in response to protests over the past two weekends at the same location against Sayed’s actions. It is expected to be much more than those gatherings.
Protesters waved Tunisian flags and held placards against the Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that is the largest in parliament and has acted as Syed’s main adversary.
One of the protesters, Salem Ajoudi, said, “We ask the president to dissolve parliament and hold accountable those who harassed people for a decade.”
The president plunged Tunisia into a constitutional crisis in July by suspending the elected parliament, sacking the prime minister and assuming executive authority.
Last month he rejected much of the constitution to say he could pass legislation by decree, casting doubt on Tunisia’s democratic gains since the 2011 revolution that started the “Arab Spring” uprising in the Muslim world. done.
Saeed’s intervention extended after years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, following a poor lockdown last year, a slow-start vaccination campaign and street protests.
Many Tunisians blame a corrupt, selfish political elite for those evils, and they see Sayed as a champion for the common people, a free man elected in 2019.
Among his supporters, Saeed’s intervention is widely regarded as a long-overdue reset of a democratic experiment that diverted established interests from the course.
“Saeed is a clean president who has come to restore true democracy,” said Mongi Abdullah, a teacher from Mahdia who came to attend the rally.
Opinion polls show Syed’s moves have received widespread support, but his long delay in declaring a timeline from the crisis has begun to strengthen his opposition.
Most of the political elite and the powerful labor union UGTT say it should start consulting more broadly if it plans to amend the constitution, as it has indicated it will.
Tunisian police on Sunday arrested a member of parliament and a television presenter who have been a prominent critic of Sayed since July, his lawyer said. Neither the police nor the military were immediately available for comment.