Friday, March 31, 2023

Tunisia is facing its biggest political crisis after President Kais Saied removed Prime Minister Hichen Mechichi and suspended Parliament

Tunisia is currently going through the worst political crisis of its ongoing decade of democracy. The political landscape of Tunisia deteriorated as a result of President Kais Saied’s decision of expelling the government and suspending Parliament with the help of military forces of the country, on Monday. The main political parties of the country has declared this decision as a ‘coup’. The streets of Tunisia have become a battleground of those in favor of and against the decision of Saied.

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Image Courtesy Arabnews
The recent political crisis in Tunisia

The current political crisis of Tunisia has erupted severe disturbance in every street of the country. The critics of Kais Saied, including Islamists, have shared concerns by highlighting that such actions will hugely damage the democratic system of Tunisia which was introduced after 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Furthermore, Saied – using his powers by imposing emergency, has also dismissed Hichen Mechichi and suspended Parliaments for a period of 30 days.

Moreover, the Speaker of Parliament has given a call for protest against these actions. Saied, on the other hand, has further extended the already imposed restrictions owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. He has also made it clear that any violent move from the opposition shall be dealt with the use of force. Saied has rejected the stance of the coup which is terming his actions as ‘anti-state’ and ‘treason’. He has advised the general public to not become part of any protest being held on streets.

Protest and Violence on the streets of Tunisia

The action of Saied on Monday, caused the rival groups to reach to the streets of Tunisia outside Parliament and confront each other with stones and insults. However, the number of participants was confined to a few hundred only. The protest did not lead to any serious unpleasant incident of violence. The armed forces of Tunisia also took active charge of the situation. They surrounded the building of Parliament, State television as well as Government palace and stopped members and state workers from entering its premises.

President Saied also imposed restrictions on public gatherings of three or more than three persons. The intervention of Saied on Sunday caused multiple protests on the streets of different cities of Tunisia. The protestors were already disturbed by the inefficiency of government in handling the situation of Covid-19 as well as falling economy. In 2020 the economy of Tunisia fell down by 8% while it has also witnessed one of the highest death rates in the region.

The protestors in the streets of Tunisia are not only from opposition but they also include the supporters of Saied. One group is protesting against the unacceptable actions of President while other group is there to extend their maximum support to him and counter any rising voice against Saied.

Stance of Mechichi

Mechichi has not been arrested rather, he is at his own residence. According to Reuters, a closed source has revealed that Mechichi would not take any step further igniting the political crisis of Tunisia. The source further shared that he is even ready to transfer his powers to anyone nominated by Saied, peacefully.

Stance of Tunisian Parliament

The speaker of Parliament, Rached Ghannouchi, who is also the head of Ennahda has straightforwardly condemned the decision of Saied. He termed his action as ‘an assault on democracy’ and asked the people of Tunisia to oppose the decision in streets. Similarly, on the other hand, Saied has neither announced that when he is going to appoint a new Prime Minister nor he has given any hint of removing the emergency from country. Infact, he has ordered the state administration and foreign institutions in Tunisia to stop their work for a period of 02 days.

Stance of White House and other countries

White House has shared its concern over the growing political crises in Tunisia at a time where the authorities are making efforts to ensure post-Covid economic stability. Similarly, Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Faisal bin Farhan had a telephonic conversation with his Tunisian counterpart. He expressed his desire to see prosperity and stability in Tunisia. United Nations has advised Tunisia to refrain from violence. Other countries like Germany, Qatar, France and Turkey also expressed keen interest in the stability of Tunisia.

The President and Prime Minister of Tunisia were elected during the times of Covid-19 in 2019 via separate popular votes. Prime Minister Hichem Michichi also took charge of his office during last spring. The votes for Parliament resulted in a chamber where each party could secure more than a quarter of seats. It is also worth mentioning that during this time period, the terms between President and Prime Minister has always remained problematic. All these different elements have resulted in the present political crisis in Tunisia.

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