© Reuters Supporters of Tunisian President Qais Saad gather in support of his seizure of power and suspension of parliament, Tunisia, Tunisia, October 3, 2021.
Written by Tareq Amara
TUNIS (Reuters) – Thousands of supporters of Tunisian President Kais Said rallied in the capital on Sunday, calling his critics a coup to show their commitment to suspending parliament and changing the political system.
Protests were called in central Tunisia in response to protests over the past two weekends at the same location against Sayed’s actions. It is expected to be much more than that rally.
Protesters hoisted the Tunisian flag and carried placard railings against Annahar, the largest Islamist party in parliament, and served as the main opposition to the Sai Sai.
“We call on the president to dissolve parliament and hold those who have suffered for a decade accountable,” said Salem Azoudi, one of the protesters.
The president adjourned parliament in July, fired the prime minister, and took executive power, leaving Tunisia in a constitutional crisis.
Last month he removed many parts of the constitution, saying he could legislate by decree, casting doubt on democratic gains since the start of the “Arab Spring” uprising in the Muslim world since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.
Sayed’s intervention was fueled by years of economic stagnation and political paralysis, poor lockdowns last year, slow-moving vaccination campaigns and street protests.
Many Tunisians blame these misfortunes on corrupt, selfish political elites, and they see an independently elected Saeed in 2019 as a champion for the common man.
Among his supporters, Saed’s intervention is widely seen as a protracted reset of democratic experimentation that alienates established interests.
“Sayyid is a clean president who has come to restore true democracy,” said Mangi Abdullah, a Mahdi teacher who attended the rally.
Although opinion polls suggest there is widespread support for Saed’s move, his long delay in announcing a timeline since the crisis has begun to strengthen his opposition.
The UGTT, the most politically elite and powerful workers’ union, has said it needs to start more consultations if it plans to amend the constitution, as it has indicated.
Tunisian police on Sunday arrested a member of parliament and a television presenter who had been prominent critics of Saad since July. Neither the police nor the army were immediately available for comment.
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