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Tunisia parties reject president's use of army in political struggles

December 3, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Hundreds of Tunisians gather at Bardo Square near parliament to protest President Kais Saied’s power seizure in Tunis, Tunisia on 14 November 2021. [Nacer Talel – Anadolu Agency]

Three Tunisian parties have rejected President Kais Saied’s involvement of the army in political conflicts.

The Democratic Current Party, the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties (Ettakatol) and the Republican Party denounced the content of Saied’s speech during a meeting of the Supreme Council of Armies on Tuesday in which he “involved sensitive organs of the state in political conflicts and deviated them from their republican creed”.

A statement issued by the Tunisian presidency said Saied praised efforts made by the armed forces to preserve the state and defend the homeland, adding that “the state is not an easy prey and its institutions will remain, and whoever works to strike the state or infiltrate its institutions is delusional.”

In a joint statement the three parties denounced what they considered Saied’s divisive discourse, and the accusations levelled against his opponents as well as appointments to senior positions in the state on the basis of loyalty rather than competence.

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”.

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