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Tunisia: president 'has no intention to overturn constitution'

In a photo taken from the television station of President Kais Saied, Presidnet Saied announces, the dissolution of parliament and Prime Minister Mechichi's government on July 25, 2021 at Carthage Palace after a day of nationwide protest. [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]
In a photo taken from the television station of President Kais Saied, Presidnet Saied announces, the dissolution of parliament and Prime Minister Mechichi's government on July 25, 2021 at Carthage Palace after a day of nationwide protest. [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Tunisia's President Kais Saied has insisted that he has no intention to overturn the Constitution and political legitimacy in the country. His decision to suspend parliament and dismiss the prime minister, he said, is "temporary" and will end "when the imminent danger jeopardising the country ends."

In related news, Ennahda movement denied rumours about a travel ban on the Speaker of Parliament and head of the party, Rached Ghannouchi.

During a meeting at the Carthage Palace with heads of major national organizations to discuss the current situation in the country, Saied expressed his surprise at the accusations made by some political parties that he has carried out a coup against the Constitution.

"A coup is a violation of legitimacy," explained Saied. "The state is still standing and there is no way to breach the principle of equality." He stressed that he had called Ghannouchi and told him of his intention to activate Article 80 of the Constitution, which gives the president of the republic the right to act when "imminent danger" threatens Tunisia.

The president urged the parties that consider his decision to be a coup to "revise" their law lessons. "Every day we register hundreds of [Covid-19] deaths. Is death [on such a scale] not an imminent danger?" He called on Tunisians "not to be drawn into chaos and clashes on the streets" because "there are parties that want to stir up unrest and cause bloodshed."

In response to rumours about a travel ban on businessmen, President Saied reassured them that he has no specific issue with them, but rather with corrupt people who have looted the country's wealth. He stressed that he would not hesitate to enforce the law against all violators.

READ: Tunisia president suspends work in state institutions

The ministers of defence and justice have also been dismissed as Saied takes over the executive to appoint a new prime minister, lift the immunity of members of Parliament and lead the investigation of corruption charges against officials. He justified this by saying that many public services are collapsing and that some parties are paying for violence in certain neighbourhoods.

On Monday evening, the Tunisian presidency posted on Facebook that the president had issued an order to prevent the movement of individuals and vehicles from 7pm to 6 am daily, starting from Tuesday, 27 July until Friday, 27 August. Movement for basic needs and urgent medical issues is exempt, as are night shift workers. Gatherings of more than three people in public have also been banned.

None of these orders affects officers of the internal security forces, military personnel, customs officers, public health employees and workers in education, training and higher education institutions. These are all subject to special provisions.

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