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Tunisia: president's 'power monopoly' is 'threat to democracy' says Ennahda

A supporter waves a flag of the Tunisian Islamist Ennahda Party on October 24, 2014 in Habib Bourguiba Avenue in the capital Tunis [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]
A supporter waves a flag of the Tunisian Islamist Ennahda Party on October 24, 2014 in Habib Bourguiba Avenue in the capital Tunis [FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images]

Tunisia's Ennahda Movement has denounced President Kais Saied for "monopolising power" and contravening the constitution and laws of the country. The criticism follows a speech on Sunday in which 63-year-old Saied said that his powers as commander of the armed forces also cover the internal security forces, not only the army.

"The president is the supreme commander of the military and civilian armed forces," he insisted. "Let this matter be clear to all Tunisians. I do not intend to monopolise these forces, but the constitution must be respected."

Saied made his speech in the presence of his two key political adversaries, the speaker of parliament and the prime minister. His statements triggered criticism from a number of analysts, especially in pro-Islamist circles.

Some Islamist social media activists went as far as to accuse Saied of harbouring "putsch" designs, a perception that would have been fuelled by the president's rejection of a parliamentary bid to amend approval of the constitutional court.

READ: Tunisia's Ennahda stresses need to elect members of Constitutional Court

In the statement issued yesterday, Ennahda criticised Saied for what it called a "violation of the constitution by referring to an abrogated text and using it as a source to justify his tendency towards monopolising powers." The Islamist movement said that it considers Saied's claim to be the head of civilian security forces as a "contravention of the constitution and the laws of the country, as well as a violation of the political system and the prime minister's prerogatives."

Warning that the president's remarks posed a threat to Tunisia's fledgling democracy, Ennahda said that it regards the attempt to involve the security forces in political conflicts as a threat to democracy, to social peace, and the achievements of the revolution.

The movement rejected what it called the "president's monopolising tendency" and called on all democratic forces to do likewise and complete the building of democratic institutions and the establishment of the constitutional court. "We urge the president to abide genuinely by the constitution on the basis of which he was elected and to refrain from all attempts to obstruct and undermine the functioning of the state."

Ennahda's statement concluded with an appeal to President Saied to put the Tunisian people first and focus on citizens' real concerns by taking the necessary measures to save the country's critical economic and financial situation.

Earlier this month, Tunisia's Minister of Finance and Investment, Ali Al-Kali, announced that public debt has reached its highest level, amounting to 16 billion Tunisian dinars ($5.7 billion).

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