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Tunisia: Preparations underway to ‘exit exceptional measures phase’

November 22, 2021 at 8:47 am

Demonstrators protest against President Kais Saied’s seizure of governing powers in Tunis, Tunisia on 14 November 2021 [FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images]

Tunisian President Kais Saied said on Saturday that preparations are underway to end the exceptional measures he took in July which included freezing parliament and missing the government and ending the immunity granted to ministers, the presidency said in a statement.

Saied, the statement added, spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday and discussed the latest developments in Tunisia including political reform.

The United States would offer support to Tunisia once it has announced dates for political reform.

“Saied stressed, during the call, on the need for Tunisia’s partners to understand that the economic and social conditions are the main problem facing Tunisia,” it added.

Meanwhile, the State Department said in a statement that Blinken encouraged Saied to make reforms to respond to Tunisians’ hopes for “democratic progress”.

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“The Secretary encouraged a transparent and inclusive reform process to address Tunisia’s significant political, economic, and social challenges and to respond to the Tunisian people’s aspirations for continued democratic progress,” the statement added.

In September, Saied appointed Najla Bouden as prime minister, after issuing a series of decrees which strengthened his constitutional powers at the government’s expense.

The majority of the country’s political parties slammed his actions 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”.