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Tunisia president is 'involving external powers' in country's affairs, opposition says

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Tunisian President Kais Saied arrive for a joint press conference after their meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on June 22, 2020. [CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Tunisian President Kais Saied arrive for a joint press conference after their meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on June 22, 2020. [CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

A political party leader in Tunisia accused the country's President Kais Saied of "involving external powers" in the country's internal affairs.

In a joint press conference with officials of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, Khalil Zaouia, head of the Ettakatol Party, said: "Saied, in his last phone call with [French President Emmanuel] Macron, spoke about the political discords in Tunisia, involving a foreign party."

Zaouia was referring to the phone call on Saturday with Macron in which Saied told the French president that "those who present themselves as victims of tyranny are the ones who want to return to it [tyranny] and are even conspiring against their country."

"We have never seen a president accusing political opponents and opposition politicians of spying and receiving money to implement tendentious policies against the Tunisian state, which is totally unacceptable," he said.

There was no comment from the Tunisian authorities.

READ: Tunisia is back to square one and has to put civil freedoms first

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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