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Blinken to Saied: We will continue to support Tunisia when reform dates are set

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on June 23, 2021 [Florian Gaertner/photothek.de/Pool/Anadolu Agency]
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on June 23, 2021 [Florian Gaertner/photothek.de/Pool/Anadolu Agency]

During a telephone conversation the US Secretary of State had with the Tunisian president, US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said that his country will continue its support for Tunisia "when the dates for reforms are fixed", which Tunisian President, Kais Saied is talking about, according to a statement by the Tunisian Presidency on Sunday.

Since 25 July, Tunisia has witnessed a political crisis when Saied began "exceptional" measures, including freezing parliament, lifting the immunity of its deputies, abolishing the constitutionality monitoring body, issuing legislation by presidential decrees, chairing the Public Prosecution, dismissing the prime minister, and assuming the executive authority with the assistance of a government headed by Najla Bouden.

The Tunisian presidency stated, in its statement, that Said received a phone call from Blinken, on Saturday evening.

The Tunisian presidency added that Blinken expressed his country's desire "that these reforms find their way to materialisation as soon as possible."

Is Tunisia's state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Is Tunisia's state of emergency being used to restrict freedoms? – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

The Tunisian presidency expressed "the continuation of the United States of America's support for Tunisia and for the support that it can find from a number of countries and international organisations when the reforms are set."

Tunisian parties and unions have repeatedly called on Saied to announce a time-bound roadmap to get out of the current crisis, warning that it will lead to a further deterioration of the situation at the political and economic levels.

While Saied stressed, during the phone conversation, "the need for Tunisia's partners to understand that the economic and social conditions are the first fundamental problem, compounded by the fabrication of crises and the spreading of lies and slander, as well as corruption and looting of the people's resources."

He added that he took the measures on 25 July "in the framework of the responsibility that he bears, after parliament turned into an arena of conflict and bloodshed, and its work was disrupted on more than one occasion as a result of physical and verbal violence."

The majority of political forces in Tunisia reject Saied's exceptional measures, and consider them a "coup against the constitution", while other forces support them, seeing them as a "correction of the course of the 2011 revolution", which overthrew the late president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

READ: 'Country can only be purified after purifying state institutions'

Saied continued: "Corruption is widespread and spread in the state and in the Parliament itself, and when the immunity of members of the House of Representatives was lifted, some of them were prosecuted, including those who had been convicted since 2018."

He added: "many inaccuracies are being spread abroad that are baseless and have nothing to do with reality. Rather, a number of companies have resorted to funds of suspicious origin to offend their homeland, Tunisia."

Saied said: "It was emphasised in this conversation that preparations are underway for the next stages and that the will is to get out of this exceptional situation into a normal situation."

During the past three months, the capital, Tunis, and various regions in the country witnessed protest movements, in which thousands participated, to denounce the measures of Saied, who began in 2019 a 5-year presidential term.

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