Tunisian President Keith Said accused of launching a coup in the conflict

The main political parties in Tunisia accused the president of launching a coup after firing the prime minister and suspending parliament.

Case Said said he was acting in accordance with the Constitution.

The move followed Sunday’s massive protests against the government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak and economic and social unrest.

Late on Monday, the fired Prime Minister Hichem Mecic said he would hand over power to anyone appointed by Mr. Said.

Mr. Mechichi said in a statement that he did not want to play the role of a “destructive factor”.

When he made the above remarks, the international community’s calls for restraint were increasing.

According to his office, in a call on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken urged the President of Tunisia to “maintain an open dialogue with all political figures and the Tunisian people.”

The United Nations stated that “all disputes…should be resolved through dialogue,” while the European Union urges all parties concerned to respect the rule of law and avoid violence.

The Arab League, Russia and Qatar have also issued similar appeals.

On Monday, supporters and opponents of Said continued to clash in the capital Tunisia.

They threw stones at each other outside the legislature blocked by the army.

Mr Saied, an independent who was elected in 2019, has had a long-standing feud with Mr Mechichi, who has the backing of the largest party in parliament, the moderate Islamists Ennahda.

The President also fired the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Justice.

The Tunisian revolution in 2011 is generally considered the only success of the Arab Spring uprising in the entire region-but it did not bring about economic or political stability.

The recent surge in Covid cases has added to the long-standing public frustration. Last week, the Minister of Health was fired after the vaccination campaign failed.

‘Until the peaceful return of society’

Thousands of people across Tunisia demonstrated against the prime minister and the Baath Party on Sunday.

The party’s local headquarters in the southwestern city of Touzère was set on fire.

Mr. Said said in a televised speech: “We have made these decisions…until Tunisia restores social peace and until we save the country.”

He vowed to use force to deal with further violence.

In the early hours of Monday morning, the speaker of Ennahda, Rached Ghannouchi, tried to enter the legislature. When he was stopped by Mr. Said’s supporters, he and his own supporters held a sit-in protest.

Late Monday, Al Jazeera, seen as sympathetic to Ennahda, said that security forces raided its office in Tunisia, unplugged all equipment, and told staff to leave.

On Sunday, after news of the Prime Minister’s removal from office, protesters erupted in celebrations.

Fierce power struggle

Analysis by BBC North Africa reporter Rana Jawad

For many people, this is a new hope after a year of chaotic governance—for others, this move is constitutionally problematic and may have unstable and far-reaching consequences.

These events are largely related to the fierce power struggle between the president, the prime minister and the speaker.

Is this a seizure of power by the president or a temporary move to get the country back on track? Will his political opponents mobilize their own support on the streets? If so, what is the ultimate goal?

The key to how all this develops will be how quickly the new prime minister can be appointed — and communicating new plans to move forward.

President Saied and Mr. Mechichi have clashed for a long time.

Mr. Said stated that he will now be in power with the new prime minister and the parliament will be suspended for 30 days.

He cited the constitution as support for his actions, but the legal framework is unclear.

As the largest political party in the parliament, Ennahda has the right to nominate the Prime Minister.

Covid outbreak

The number of deaths related to the coronavirus last week set a record for the country, exceeding 300 in a 24-hour period. Tunisia has one of the highest death rates per capita in the world.

Vaccination progress is slow: only 7% of the 11.7 million population have been vaccinated.

The government recently tried to speed up vaccination by opening it up to all people over the age of 18-but this effort has fallen into chaos, with stampedes, shortages of supplies, and violence.

Charles Nicol Hospital, Tunisia

Health services are under severe pressure to cope with the surge in Covid hospitalization

Covid is just one factor in the turbulence. Since the revolution in 2011, Tunisia has nine governments, many of which are short-lived or fragmented.

The deep-rooted unemployment and shaky national infrastructure problems behind the uprising have never been resolved.

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