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Tunisia's Ennahda will participate in Friday's protests

People gather for sit-in protest in Tunis, Tunisia on 17 December 2021. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]
People gather for sit-in protest in Tunis, Tunisia on 17 December 2021. [Yassine Gaidi - Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia's Ennahda movement will not comply with the government ban on gatherings and will join Friday's protests against the exceptional measures taken by President Kais Saied in July.

Member of the group's Executive Bureau Mohamed Goumani said "the decision to ban" Friday's protest was "politicised, it aims to besiege the protest." Authorities have said the measures to stop gatherings formed part of efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

"The protesters were allowed to go out on 25 July, at the peak of the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, but today protests are prohibited," he added:

Opposition parties vowed to press ahead with the demonstrations on Friday, defying the government's decision to ban gatherings. They say the new measures have been put in place for political reasons.

Yesterday the government approved a night curfew and cancelled or postponed all indoor and outdoor demonstrations from today for a renewable period of two weeks, to confront the outbreak of the pandemic. Opposition groups have said this is an attempt to prevent large protests against Saied's actions.

READ: Ennahda's Noureddine Bhiri is 'on the brink of death', group warns

Tunisia imposed a curfew during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, and again for most of the last year, but it lifted it in September, after a decline in the number of infections.

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. Last month, Saied announced that a referendum will be held on 25 July to consider 'constitutional reforms' and elections would follow in December 2022.

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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