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Tunisia blocks path of anti-coup protests

Demonstrators gather at to protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied in Tunis, Tunisia on 10 October 2021 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]
Demonstrators gather at to protest against Tunisian President Kais Saied in Tunis, Tunisia on 10 October 2021 [Nacer Talel/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian authorities yesterday blocked the roads leading to the parliament building where a protest was being held in defence of "constitutional and parliamentary legitimacy".

The Ennahda movement announced its support of the peaceful movement organised by the Citizens Against the Coup initiative in central Tunis.

Ennahda, which was the largest parliamentary bloc with 53 out of 217 lawmakers following the last election, said in a statement that "instead of respecting the law", the Tunisian authorities prevented this demonstration and blocked access to the capital.

According to the statement, security checkpoints have stopped cars heading to the capital, confiscated the documents of some of their passengers and forced them to return to where they came from.

The statement added that checkpoints also prevented large gatherings and travel agencies from renting buses to protesters.

"Some citizens protesting against this restriction on the roads were taken to security centres and harassed, and the demonstrators were prevented from reaching Bardo Square, through barriers that closed all the entrances to the square, with a very heavy security presence," it added.

Ennahda expressed "its support for this legal and peaceful move, and its full solidarity with all those who had been subjected to abuse and aggression against their natural and legal rights at the hands of the security services to travel freely in their homeland and express their positions, including opposing [President Saied] Kais' coup against the constitution, revolution and the will of the people."

Saied has held nearly total power since 25 July when he sacked the prime minister, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority citing a national emergency.

He appointed a prime minister on 29 September and a government has since been formed.

The majority of the country's political parties slammed the move as a "coup against the constitution" and the achievements of the 2011 revolution. Critics say Saied's decisions have strengthened the powers of the presidency at the expense of parliament and the government, and that he aims to transform the country's government into a presidential system.

On more than one occasion, Saied, who began a five-year presidential term in 2019, said that his exceptional decisions are not a coup, but rather measures within the framework of the constitution to protect the state from "imminent danger".

Tunisia: President's most prominent supporters call for his overthrow

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