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Tunisia's president accused of leading soft coup against state

Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks during a ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia on March 22, 2021 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]
Tunisian President Kais Saied speaks during a ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia on March 22, 2021 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

Observers claim that the statements and stances of Tunisian President Kais Saied have recently raised concerns over potential deviations that could threaten the country, stating that he appears to be leading a "soft coup" against the ruling regime in order to expand his powers.

According to observers, Saied is proceeding with what he calls "constitutional interpretations" to increase his powers, turning the ruling regime in Tunisia into a presidential system instead of the dual executive system currently in force.

The president's most recent controversial statement was issued on Sunday, during a celebration of the 65th anniversary of the Internal Security Forces Day, when the Tunisian president asserted: "I am the supreme commander of the armed security forces, not just the military, according to the law on the internal security forces issued in 1982."

These statements angered Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and Parliament Speaker and Ennahda Movement leader Rached Ghannouchi, who expressed their categorical rejection of Saied's remarks, while accusing him of violating the constitution and the law.

Mechichi expressed in a strongly worded statement that these assertions are: "Out of context, and we need a discourse that unites Tunisians in support of the government and the authorities because we face an unprecedented challenge and a tough battle against the difficult economic and health situation. We do not have time to waste in such analyses that are not convenient to be delved into now."

READ: New head of Tunisia's official news agency resigns after days of protests

Meanwhile, the Ennahda Movement reacted to the president's comments in a statement on Tuesday, in which it affirmed its rejection of what it called the authoritarian tendency of the head of state, calling on the democratic forces to: "Reject this endeavour and complete the democratic process."

Ennahda considers Saied's announcement of being the "supreme commander of the internal security forces" as: "A violation of the constitution and the laws of the country, and an attack on the political system and the powers of the prime minister." The movement demanded that the Tunisian president: "Adhere to the constitution that allowed his election to lead the country, and to stop all efforts to disrupt and dismantle the state."

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